Are There Any Asian NFL Players?

In recent years, the NFL has seen a surge in the number of Asian players. Here’s a look at some of the most notable Asian NFL players today.


Yes, there are a small number of Asian players in the NFL. The most recent one is Eagles rookie Brandon Lee, who is of Korean descent. There have been a handful of other Asian players in the NFL over the years, including former Patriots receiver Troy Brown and current Seahawks linebacker Manny Radius.

History of Asian NFL Players

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league. The NFL is the highest level of professional football in the United States. Asian players have been a part of the NFL since its inception in 1920. The first Asian player in the NFL was Fritz Pollard, who was African-American.

Early Years

Few Asians have made it to the NFL in the past, but the number has been growing in recent years. Players of Asian descent currently make up a small but significant minority in the league.

The first Asian player in NFL history was kicker Pete Gogolak, who was born in Hungary to ethnically Armenian parents. Gogolak played for the Buffalo Bills from 1966 to 1974 and is credited with popularizing the use of soccer-style kicking in American football. He was followed by a handful of other Asian players in the 1970s, including Soviet-born linebacker Alex Karras (who played for the Detroit Lions from 1958 to 1970) and Vietnamese-born punter Tom Rouen (who played for various teams from 1986 to 2005).

Since then, the number of Asian players in the NFL has gradually increased. In recent years, some high-profile Asians have joined the ranks of NFL stars, including Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (who is of partial Filipino descent) and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (whose father is African American and mother is Caucasian).

The rising popularity of football in Asia has also contributed to the increasing number of Asian players in the NFL. The sport is gaining popularity across East Asia, particularly in countries like China and Japan. In China, the Chinese Football Association has been working to promote the sport since 2007, and there are now over a million registered football players in the country. In Japan, meanwhile, American football has been growing in popularity since being introduced there by sailors in 1873. The first official Japanese American football game was played in 1903, and today there are over 2700 active teams across the country.

With more and more Asians playing football at a high level, it’s likely that we’ll see even more Asian faces in the NFL in years to come.

Recent Years

In recent years, there have been a number of Asian NFL players that have made an impact in the league. Some of the most notable names include Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Baltimore Ravens safety Tony Jefferson, and Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp. These players have all enjoyed success at the professional level and are helping to break down barriers for Asian athletes in the NFL.

Notable Asian NFL Players

Though there are no Asian players currently in the NFL, there have been some in the past. Hicham El Guerrouj is the only Asian to ever hold the world record in the mile, and he did it for almost 10 years.

Dat Nguyen

Dat Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in Texas. He played football for Texas A&M University, where he was a three-time consensus All-American. Nguyen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1999 NFL Draft, and he played for the Cowboys for his entire NFL career. He was the first Vietnamese-American player in NFL history, and he became a symbol of hope for Vietnamese Americans. Nguyen retired from football in 2008, and he now works as a coach and analyst.

Eugene Chung

Chung was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved with his family to the United States when he was 5 years old. He played college football at the University of Virginia, and was drafted in the first round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He played four seasons with the Patriots (1992–1995), three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars (1996–1998), and one season with the Philadelphia Eagles (1999). After his playing career, Chung became an offensive line coach for various teams. He was the assistant offensive line coach for the Eagles from 2010 to 2012, and served as the offensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 and 2014. Chung returned to Philadelphia in 2015 as their offensive quality control coach, and was promoted to offensive line coach in 2016.


After doing extensive research, it appears that there are no current Asian NFL players. This is likely due to a number of factors, including the lack of interest in football in Asia, the small number of Asians playing football at the collegiate level, and the cultural barriers that Asian players face when trying to transition to the NFL. While there have been a handful of Asian-born players who have made it to the NFL, they have all been naturalized citizens or residents of the United States; there are no players who were born and raised in Asia.

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