Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi believes London is ready for an NFL franchise.
Ajayi, who was born in London, is expected to play for the Dolphins on Sunday against the Saints at Wembley Stadium. He believes there is room for European and American football in England.
“I think it’s definitely possible,” Ajayi said. “The infrastructure I think is there for London. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how they set it up with an American team and Americans having to go over there and be on a London team and all of that stuff. I definitely think the city of London, they’re all ready for it, and they’re excited for American football. You can tell. All the games sold out. I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens down the line.”
The NFL has had tremendous success drawing crowds to American football games in England, which has lead some to wonder if an NFL franchise such as Jacksonville could actually end up relocating there.
Ajayi, whose popularity in England is immense, is hoping to inspire young Englanders to try the tackle sport.
“Going back this summer, I got to go meet the London Blitz football team and see everything that they’ve got going on over there,” Ajayi said. “(It) was exciting for me. It was almost like gratifying because I remember growing up not too far from the park they were practicing at and thinking, ‘Wow, they’re really out here now and they’re working at their craft.’ They’re chasing their dream and looking at me as a role model almost. It’s inspiring and it’s also exciting to know that they’re taking American football serious and some of them really are striving to work their way up there, maybe fly over to the states and work their way through high school or college and make it to the NFL.”
Two years ago, Ajayi was unable to play for the Dolphins in a game in England. Ajayi was a rookie and he was injured. Ajayi missed practice on Wednesday as he rests a sore knee.
But Ajayi is expected to play Sunday.
“It’s exciting,” Ajayi said. “I’m getting to go home. My whole family is flying out. It’s a special thing and I think it will be even more special when I get there and it’s about to kickoff and all of that. I think that will be a great moment for me and for my family as well because I’m bringing everyone. So I think everyone is excited for it.”
Ajayi is interested in fashion and is launching a lifestyle brand called “YURP’ in London on Friday.
“It stands for Your Unlocked Raw Power,” Ajayi said. “Basically it’s my platform that I’ve been working on – myself and my YURP team – for over a year and a half now. It’s going to be exciting to launch in London. That’s where the roots are from; that’s where my roots are from. It all made sense (with) this whole weekend, getting to come back and being able to set it up. I’m excited for it to finally come to fruition on Friday.”