Chinese-American player keen to grow NFL in China

By Brian Lowe Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/15 22:13:40

Football league Weibo account has over 1 million followers

Chinese-American football player Taylor Rapp. Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Rapp

Taylor Rapp, who is just the second Chinese-American player ever to be drafted by a team in the National Football League (NFL) in the US, has revealed he plans to take a leading role in helping to grow American Football in China by holding football camps in the country.

The league has been talking about taking a game to China and while it hasn't happened yet, Rapp admits he is keen as mustard to see it come to fruition.

Rapp was born in the US state of Washington. His father is Canadian, his mother is Chinese and he says it is because of his mom that he has the drive to want to promote the NFL in China.

"For sure. To have a game in China, to be able to go to my home where my mom is from and where my heritage is and to have a game over there with my people, it would be an amazing thing," he said.

Ten years ago, Chinese hardly paid attention to the NFL but today things are vastly different. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sees China as a priority market.

In 2018, NFL games attracted an audience of around 2 million Chinese viewers per week during the regular season and even more for the Super Bowl. That championship game was broadcast live on digital platform Tencent Sports, as well traditional broadcasters Five Star Sports, BestTV, and the Guangdong Sports Channel. Tencent is the NFL's main broadcast partner in China.

Chinese-American football player Taylor Rapp. Photo: Brian Lowe

The NFL China Weibo account has more than 1 million followers, evidence according to Rapp that the league is continuing to gain in popularity by leaps and bounds in China.

"Yes, that's a lot. The game is definitely growing in China and that's something that I would like to do," he continued.

"I'm planning to go to China this offseason to try to hold some football camps. You know, just try to bring the game over there because I think football is so amazing.

"It has brought me so much. It has brought me so many opportunities. It has given me an entire college education; it gave me this chance to play in the National Football League and I've made life-long friends and life-long relationships with people.

"I just think there are so many opportunities within the game that I want to bring over there to China as well."

The 21-year-old was taken by the Los Angeles Rams at No.61 in the second round of the 2019 draft in April, making him the highest drafted Chinese-American player in NFL history. The only other Chinese-American to play in the NFL was Ed Wang, who signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2010, however, he played for only the one season.

Rapp says while he was delighted to be drafted as highly as he was, making league history for it is not something he dwells on too much.

"Not really. I don't think of it as making history or anything like that. It's a cool thing, the record books and stuff like that, but I don't really think of it like that," he added.

Rapp played the defensive position of Safety at the University of Washington during his college career and says while his heritage was important to him then, as it still is now, he has always been more focused on playing football.

"I just try to play football. I don't try to stand out or have my heritage single me out. I'm just here to play ball to try to help the team."

Chinese-American football player Taylor Rapp. Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Rapp

Given his father's Canadian citizenship, Rapp would also be eligible to play in the Canadian Football League (CFL) if he chose to follow up on that option, however, he concedes that it's not something he has seriously considered.

The Rams, having wrapped up their training camp in early August, are now preparing for the start of the NFL preseason ahead of the kick-off to the regular season in September.

While his professional playing career may just be getting started, the young man from the US Pacific Northwest admits that everything being equal, he wants to keep playing for as long as he can, maybe for up to ten years if he can stay healthy.

"Hopefully. Only time will tell, but that's the goal. I'll just put my head down and keep working and hopefully that is where I'll be in five or ten years."

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