American Football Leagues in Italy Producing NFL-caliber Players

May 08, 2022 238

Habakkuk Baldonado, a star defensive lineman from the University of Pittsburgh (PITT), is projected to go pro in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Thing is, Baldonado didn’t learn to play ball on Pennsylvania’s high school circuit, he took up the game in his hometown — Rome, Italy — on an American football team.

Yes, Italians play “our” version of the game and their system is beginning to produce top-tier players like Baldonado, and Italian Football League quarterback Andrea Fimiani, who leads the IFL in rushing and is first in passing efficiency. Even more impressive: men aren’t the only ones picking up the pigskin. Nausicaa Dell’Orto plays in the Women’s Italian Football League, she is sponsored by Nike and works for NFL Films.

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