Words by Natalie Weiner–
This coming Sunday is all about the Super Bowl. During what essentially amounts to a national holiday in the US (and, to a lesser degree, Canada), people gather around the nearest television — beer and insanely unhealthy food in hand — to watch a bunch of enormous (and inexplicably graceful) men butt heads (literally). In the Caribbean, as with most of the rest of the world, however, football = soccer. As a result, players from the Caribbean are not often represented in the Super Bowl though their ranks are growing in the NFL. We even did a ranking of our favorites two years ago, when no less than four players with Caribbean roots appeared in the big game. In that one, there was even a scion of Jamaican reggae royalty.
This year, there’s one player bringing some island flavor to the (sure to be freezing) game Sunday —Jamaica-born Orlando Franklin of the Denver Broncos. When he’s not quoting Ice Cube, the 6’7″, 330 pound Franklin protects football legend Peyton Manning on the field as starting right tackle for the Broncos. He started every game his first year in the NFL, and his record has only gotten more impressive since then — he allowed the fewest sacks in the league last season.
Franklin was born in Montego Bay, and moved to Toronto with his mother at age 3. Growing up in Canada, he developed an interest in football and was recruited by the University of Miami. Since graduating he’s been a starter with the Broncos offense, which is rated number 1 in the country, thanks in no small part to the offensive linemen allowing Manning to work in his mysterious (but all-too-effective) ways. Even Rob Ford (current mayor of Franklin’s hometown and apparent Jamaicaphile) is getting behind Franklin as he heads into the Super Bowl. Look out for Franklin this weekend as you watch — big ups to him for making it all the way!