The NFL’s first regular season game in Germany unfortunately will not be the first NFL regular season appearance for German Seattle Seahawks linebacker Aaron Donkor.
Earlier this week Pete Carroll revealed that Donkor won’t play on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite efforts to make it happen. Donkor is part of the International Player Pathway Program, which grants him a special exception to be a part of the Seahawks’ 16-man practice squad without counting towards the limit. As it turns out, that exception also creates a problem as far as elevating him to the active roster.
The Tacoma News Tribune lays it all out:
This week, the league informed the Seahawks they had to have taken Donkor off the developmental exemption and signed him onto its practice squad as one of its 16 members three weeks ago for him to be able to play Sunday. The Seahawks thought they could promote him from the practice squad for the game Saturday to play Sunday, as it can any other practice-squad player for any other game.
Carroll, Seahawks vice president of football administration Matt Thomas and other team leaders asked the league to excuse the technicality and let Donkor play Sunday, given the unique circumstance.
The NFL said no.
If you’re to find fault in this situation, it seems like the Seahawks are the ones who should’ve known about this rule well in advance. Unfortunately the rules are the rules and while perhaps this will be reviewed in the offseason, that doesn’t help Donkor in the short-term. No doubt the German contingent would’ve loved to see Donkor even on special teams, and Donkor would’ve cherished this momentous occasion in his home country.
Donkor’s involvement on Sunday will be to lead the team onto the field in front of what figures to be a very pro-Seahawks crowd at the Allianz Arena.
“I tried to get that done, and we weren’t able to do it,” Carroll said. “I went all the way to the top of the chain to figure that one out. I thought it would be a great idea. We just couldn’t get it OK’d.
“But he’s going to be carrying the flag. He’ll be out there going crazy.”
Alas, Vi Jones is the one who gets the practice squad elevation for tomorrow.