NFL Players with Caribbean Roots

Photo by Adrian Curiel on Unsplash

Andre Daniel

Release Date

Wednesday, June 12, 2024


The NFL has truly become a global game. Why else would the league schedule several games every year in Europe? Obviously, there has been increasing influence from Europe and the South Pacific in recent years. But the Caribbean is also starting to make an impact in American Football. In fact, there are several current NFL players with Caribbean roots who have made their way from island nations to one of the biggest professional sports leagues in the world. Let’s take a closer look at some of the noteworthy players in the NFL today who hail from the Caribbean.

Josue Matias

Despite retiring from football in 2019, Matias became the first player from the Dominican Republic to play in the NFL when he signed with the Tennessee Titans in 2015. The Dominican Republic has long been known more for baseball than football. However, his family moved to New Jersey when he was six, allowing football to become Matias’ preferred sport, ultimately making history as a native Dominican.

Pierre Desir

Desir is also retired but spent his career in the NFL representing Haiti with pride. His father, Jean-Claude Desir, was a celebrated soccer player who represented Haiti in the 1974 World Cup. At age four, the Desire family moved to the U.S., settling near St. Louis. Even though he was overlooked coming out of high school and played at the Division II level in college, Desir was a fourth-round draft pick in 2014. He played eight seasons in the league, following in the footsteps of fellow Haitians like Gosder Cherilus, Max Jean-Gilles, and Dadi Nicolas who were also Haitians who played in the NFL.

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Javon Kinlaw

Out of all of the NFL players of Caribbean heritage, Kinlaw may have come the furthest. He was born in Trinidad & Tobago and moved to the U.S. with his family to seek a better life. But even after moving to America, Kinlaw’s family dealt with homelessness while he was growing up. Yet, he persevered and had a standout college career at South Carolina, ultimately becoming a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That would be a huge accomplishment for anyone, but it’s particularly impressive for someone with Kinlaw’s background.

Kinlaw played with the 49ers during his first four seasons in the NFL. He was part of one of the best defenses in the league and even played in a Super Bowl. In fact, during Kinlaw’s tenure with the team, the 49ers were frequently among the favorites to win the Super Bowl. There are several popular NFL betting sites that allow fans to place bets on the Super Bowl winner or individual games during the season.

Patrick Chung

Chung has quite an interesting family lineage. He was born in Jamaica with his mom Sophia George being a popular Jamaican singer who had a big hit in the 1980s with her song “Girlie Girlie.” His father, meanwhile, is part Jamaican and part Chinese. The family moved from Jamaica to California when Chung was 10. After a standout college career at Oregon, Chung was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He spent all but one of his 12 NFL seasons with the Patriots, helping New England win three Super Bowls. Today, Chung is considered one of the best safeties in franchise history

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