Saturday, July 1 is Canada Day, and the Seattle Seahawks are lucky enough to be one of the only NFL teams with not one, but two Canadian-born players.
Wikipedia lists just 14 Canadian-born NFL players, and two of them are Seahawks: Tight end Luke Willson and punter Jon Ryan, the longest-tenured member of the team.
After he was released by the Green Bay Packers in 2008 (following a stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers) Ryan signed with Seattle in 2008, when Mike Holmgren was still the head coach. Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Ryan attended the University of Regina where he played both punter and receiver, leading the team in receiving yards as a sophomore. He lasted through the retirement of Holmgren and the nightmare of Jim Mora, and is now going into his eighth season under Pete Carroll. He signed a four-year, $10 million contract in 2016, which is almost $13 million in Canadian dollars!
Somehow, Ryan has never had the nickname, “A-Boot.”
Willson, who recently signed a one-year, $1.8 million deal to remain with the Seahawks, was born in LeSalle, Ontario, but played his college ball stateside with Rice in Houston, Texas. A fifth round pick in 2013, Willson has 74 catches for 976 yards and seven touchdowns in his career, plus 154 additional yards and a touchdown in the playoffs.
Together, Willson and Ryan form “Strikeforce Canada,” a thing I just made up right now.
Dallas and Baltimore are two other NFL teams that have two Canadian-born players, showing that clearly there is some discrimination around the league against our brothers to the north. Without these two players, Seattle would have never beaten the Packers and reached the Super Bowl in 2015. Happy Canada Day you Luke and Jon, this one’s for you!