The National Football League regular season starts on Thursday with the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field in Pennsylvania. Of the 1696 players in the NFL, there are 12 Canadians who have made NFL rosters to begin the season.
The dozen are Dallas Cowboys long snapper Louis-Philippe Ladouceur of Montreal, Quebec, Cowboys defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford of Windsor, Ontario, Kansas City Chiefs right guard Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, New York Jets defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd of Ajax, Ontario, Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Brent Urban of Mississauga, Ontario, Houston Texans defensive end Christian Covington of Vancouver, British Columbia, New Orleans Saints defensive lineman David Onyemata of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Detroit Lions tight end Luke Willson of LaSalle, Ontario and wide receiver T.J. Jones of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Antony Auclair of Notre-Dame-des-Pins, Quebec, Minnesota Vikings center Brett Jones of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Eli Ankou of Ottawa, Ontario.
Of the dozen, Dr. Duvernay-Tardif has the highest profile. In May, he became the first active NFL player ever to become a physician when he graduated from the University of McGill in Montreal. Duvernay-Tardif is also the highest paid Canadian in the NFL, as he is in his second year of a five year contract which sees him earn an average of $8.25 million per season.
Ladouceur is the longest active Cowboys player as he has been with the team since 2005. In 2014, he represented the Cowboys in the Pro Bowl.
Crawford has been with the Cowboys since 2012. He has had 143 tackles, 16.5 sacks and collected three fumbles in his NFL career. In 2017, Crawford had 18 tackles, four sacks and one fumble. Crawford’s fumble came in a 33-19 Cowboys win over the Washington Redskins on October 29.
Shepherd was selected in the third round, 72nd overall, by the New York Jets in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was also the only Canadian drafted in the NFL in 2018.
Urban has 25 tackles over three seasons with the Ravens. He has had three sacks and one blocked kick.
Christian Covington is the son of former Hamilton Tiger-Cats legend Grover Covington. In three seasons in Houston, Covington has 50 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble. Onyemata meanwhile has had 56 sackles and two sacks over the last two seasons for the Saints.
Willson has played the last five seasons with the Seahawks, winning a Super Bowl in 2014. He has had 89 catches for 1129 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last year Willson had 15 catches for 153 yards and four touchdowns, as he backed up Jimmy Graham.
T.J. Jones has played the last three seasons with the Lions. He has 45 catches for 624 yards and two touchdowns. Last season, Jones had 30 catches for 399 yards and one touchdown. Auclair meanwhile had two catches for 25 yards with the Buccaneers in 2017.
Brett Jones played the last three seasons with the New York Giants. He was traded from the Giants to the Vikings on August 26 for the Vikings seventh round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Ankou played nine games with the Jaguars in 2017. He had 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Of the 12 Canadians in the NFL, only Brett Jones played in the CFL. He was with the Calgary Stampeders in 2013 and 2014. Jones, who played for the University of Regina, is also one of four players in the NFL, who played university football in Canada. The others are Duvernay-Tardif with the University of McGill, Onyemata with the University of Manitoba and Auclair with the University of Laval.