American Football is now an international sport, being played in over 85 countries around the globe. In different countries, to help develop the sport and keep competition at a high level, American players are “imported” onto club teams in various capacities. These players get paid to play the game they love while seeing the world and experience different cultures. The Milano Rhinos (Italy) American import, TJ Pryor, allowed me a detailed interview about his experience in Europe.
TJ PRYOR’S FOOTBALL BACKGROUND
How many years have you played in Europe/overseas?
This my 4th year overseas, 3rd year with Rhinos
Which team was your best experience?
Milano Rhinos was the best experience, team feels more like a family and not a job
Which country was your best experience?
Italy was my best experience, great food, beautiful scenery, great people.
What’s your football journey?
After college I played 2 months in arena football (Indoor football league) for the Colorado Ice. I was contacted on Facebook to play football in France. I thought it would be great to see the world, so o decided to give it a chance.
LIFE IN ITALY
How do you like it in Italy?
I love Italy , a lot of history in Italy that I have learned about in textbooks. It was good to finally see with my own eyes. The people are great , very nice and helpful; always happy and want to enjoy life.
What is your go to meal in Italy?
Pizza is my go to meal (Diavola) similar to Pepperoni.
Do you spend a lot of time with teammates or on your own/with other imports?
I spend a lot of time with my teammates and the other import. Me and the other import live together. I also spend time with my teammates off the field , such as lunch , dinner , getting a beer after practice etc.
FOOTBALL IN ITALY
What level would you compare the football played there to in the United States?
I would compare the football to a really good NAIA team in America.
What do you see as some of the biggest differences between football in the states compared to Europe/Italy?
Some of the biggest differences I would say is practice schedule and knowledge of the game, practicing only twice a week can be good and bad.
How have you personally helped your teammates and coaches develop their American Football knowledge during your time abroad?
Since being abroad , I’ve helped coach some of the younger teams. Help them with developing better football skills.
What are your plans after the season concludes?
After the season I will go home, start working , and work toward helping young kids develop better football skills (coaching).
What advice would you give to someone playing football in Europe/overseas for the first time?
my advice for someone playing overseas would be to enjoy the experience. It’s not like college football that you are used too … keep and open mind and enjoy.. being in Europe to play football is a blessing.
Can you sum up what American Football means to you?
American football is my life.