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NFL adds international players to teams and Bears roster

Photo caption: Chicago Bears Roy Mbaeteka signed out of Nigeria

In a quest to successfully grow their global football development program, the National Football League announced the names of eight players added to NFL rosters for the 2023 season through the NFL International Player Pathway (IPP) program.

The Chicago Bears were among several teams that added an international player to their roster. The team added 23-year-old offensive lineman Roy Mbaeteka of Nigeria in May.

NFL Executive Vice President of Club Business, Major Events & International, Peter O’Reilly said, “To see this hugely talented group of players be allocated to NFL rosters is very exciting and a testament to the success of the NFL’s global football development programs for international athletes.

“The International Player Pathway is a critical program in identifying, supporting and enabling athletes from around the world, and we look forward to seeing each player’s NFL journey unfold as they become global ambassadors for the sport.”

One Australian, one French and six Nigerian players from the 2023 IPP have been allocated to NFL clubs, the highest number in a single year since the program’s inception.

Established in 2017, the NFL International Player Pathway program aims to provide elite athletes from around the world with the opportunity to earn a spot on a NFL roster and increase the number of international players in the League.

This year, 13 talented young athletes were invited to join the 2023 IPP program following an NFL International Combine in London, England, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last season, with 38 players from 13 countries participating.

The 2023 IPP cohort spent 10 weeks at an intensive training camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, earlier this year, with opportunities to showcase their talents in front of NFL club scouts at a Pro Day at the University of South Florida ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.

From the NFL’s eight divisions, the NFC North and the AFC West divisions were chosen to receive IPP players in a random draw and become the 7th and 8th division to participate, respectively.

Both divisions have been selected to receive four players from the IPP, bringing the total number of IPP athletes placed on rosters through the program this year to eight, the most in a single year of the program’s history, with all 32 teams now having received an IPP player since the program’s inception in 2017.

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Sports Editor at Chicago Crusader Newspaper

Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.

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