Jay Ajayi says his involvement in NFL Academy is 'a special thing'
By James Simpson
Last Updated: 09/05/19 2:41pm
NFL Academy ambassador Jay Ajayi says his involvement in the newly-introduced programme is "a special thing" for his legacy in the sport.
On Tuesday, the league announced they will open a training academy in London in September which will identify and develop players who could go on to play college football in the United States.
NFL to open academy in London
The NFL will open a training academy in London in September for teenagers who want to tackle the sport.
A group of current and former NFL players have pledged to support the academy's efforts as ambassadors, and British-born Ajayi is one of them.
Speaking to Neil Reynolds for Inside the Huddle, Ajayi said: "I'm very excited to know the UK is beginning to adopt an academy system for American football, with all the resources they can put into it as well as the players and people that are passionate about it here.
"That makes it exciting to join those voices and hopefully create a system where we can start bringing out football players to the States."
Ajayi, born in London, shot to fame in the UK after being drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
In 2016, he became just the fourth player in NFL history to have three 200-yard rushing games in a single season, and one season later, he won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles after he was traded from Miami.
Despite his individual success, he believes his involvement in the new programme will be a huge part of his legacy in the sport.
"It's amazing," he said. "I think back to my own childhood here in London and I didn't really know anything about American football. Contrast to now, how times have changed, how the exposure of the game over here has grown, and just the passion and love for the game as well.
"Even when I was back as a child as well, all the academy systems were more for British football. Now, in 2019, to have an NFL Academy for the kids that love American football and want to possibly chase that route, it's exciting for them to have that choice to go towards.
"So for me to have that on my legacy - outside of my NFL career, to be actually a part of the NFL Academy out here - it is a very special thing.
"It's exciting because [the participants] all have a space now where they can hone their skills, work tirelessly on getting better and honing their craft. That is a big reason why I was able to get to where I was - I had the resources and coaching and skill sets to be able to learn and improve on different things that helped my game towards my NFL career."