NFL’s first senior British coach: Louis Rees-Zammit has what it takes to make switch from rugby work

Louis Rees-Zammit has joined back-to-back Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs – Alamy Live News

It took 17 years of London NFL games and countless heroic failures from wannabe players but, at last, the British are coming to American football.

There have been isolated success stories before. Osi Umenyiora, born in London, won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and Jay Ajayi had a strong if typically brief career as a running back for the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles.

Far more common are arcs like Alex Gray’s, a convert from rugby union who spent two years on the practice squad of the Atlanta Falcons and is now better known as Apollo in Gladiators.

Hopes are higher for this summer’s sport-switcher Louis Rees-Zammit, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs last week. There has been less noise around an arguably more significant British appointment this off-season, coach Aden Durde joining the Seattle Seahawks.

While managers from overseas have become the default in the Premier League there has been lingering hostility towards Americans in similar roles. Think Jesse Marsch at Leeds and thousands of undercooked Ted Lasso gags, or the fury when Bob Bradley called penalties “PKs” during his brief spell at Swansea.

You might expect a bit of that feeling going the other way, leftover Boston Tea Party sentiment about ‘Limeys’ telling Americans how to play their own game. “I haven’t encountered it but you’re talking about guys that are in charge of the team and up until now I’ve been a position coach,” says Durde.

He is beyond that now. Durde started his coaching career in the States as a quality control coach with the Falcons. Two years in that role gave him a thorough grounding in every aspect of working for an NFL team. “It’s like being an intern. You have a set of jobs, data input, making sure the information given is quality assured, you build the playbooks, draw all the pictures. You learn every position.”

From there, jobs…


Read More

You might like