As Football Scores in Mexico, Its Players Hope NFL Notices

League claims 20M fans south of border, but path to pro ranks is a tough one
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2008 1:42 PM CST
Offensive guard Rolando Cantu of the Arizona Cardinals. Cantu, of Monterrey, Mexico, is the first Mexican citizen to make it to the NFL through the Mexican collegiate system rather than the NCAA.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Mexico isn’t known for loving football—the pigskin kind—but the sport is gaining popularity there, the Los Angeles Times reports. The NFL estimates it has 20 million Mexican fans, and with the game catching on at the high school and college level, players are pushing for more attention from the American league, where just five Mexicans are on practice squads.

“The kids need to see” Mexican players in the NFL, says a broadcaster for Monterrey Tech, the country’s dominant college program. “We have to find a way to get the NFL to pay attention to Mexican college football and stop thinking that the only source of talent is the US colleges.” An NFL exec agrees, despite a league program to set aside 16 practice-squad spots for foreign players: “I don't think it’s robust enough.”