Super Bowl
Representational image PIXABAY

The Thanksgiving holidays are a synonym of football in the United States. Matches are a staple of these days and, while Latinos are among the biggest fan of the sport, according to the LA Times, they still represent a minuscule fraction of the league's players especially when considering that almost 20 percent of the country is part of the demographic.

The figure, however, has grown. According to a report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in sports, in 2021 there were only 12 NFL players identifying themselves as Latinos, less than 1 percent of the league total. The figure decreased to 0.4 percent in 2022 but ,this year, La Lista reported the number of players that are either Latinos or of Latino descent has grown to 25.

Among them is Isiah Pacheco, who has Puerto Rican heritage and is the running back for the Kansas City Chiefs, the latest Super Bowl champions. Pacheco has so far ran for 614 yards in 143 attempts, averaging 4.3 yards per rush. He has also scored three touchdown this season, contributing to the team's 7-3 record. On Monday, the Chiefs lost against the Philadelphia Eagles by 21-17.

The highest number of Latino players in any recent NFL season, as per TIDES, was reached in 2007, with 30, followed by 25 in 2008 and 24 in 2009. These figures were not more than 1% of representation in any of those years.

According to data compiled by Statista, Hispanics see themselves as the most avid NFL fans in the U.S. with 45% of respondents saying so in an April 2023 survey. After Hispanics, 42% percent of African-American fans say they are avid fans with 37% of Whites saying they are.

There will be other players of Latino descent during the holiday NFL matches. The game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets will feature Braxton Berrios for the former, while Alijah Vera-Tucker is part of the latter's roster.

Berrios, also of Puerto Rican descent, is playing his fifth season in the league, the first one for the Dolphins after a stint at the New York Jets. Overall he has played 69 games and scored six touchdowns, averaging over 10 yards per catch. In 2021 he led the league in kick return average with over 30 yards per run.

Alijah Vera-Tucker, on his end, was the 14th overall pick of the 2021 draft, being chosen by in the first round and signing a 4-year contract with the Jets. He's played dozens of matches ever since but in Week 5 of the season he suffered an Achilles heel injury and was placed on injured reserve ever since.

The Dolphins hold a 7-3 record so far in the season, while the Jets are in need of a win to keep their chances of making it to the playoffs alive, considering their 4-6 record.

Another Latino in the roster of a team that played during the holidays is Chris Rodriguez Jr., third running back for the Washington Commanders. This is Rodriguez's first season in the NFL after being picked in the sixth round of the latest draft. After a strong preseason, in which he averaged 7.4 yards per carry, the player of Puerto Rican descent made it to the final 53-man roster.

The NFL has placed a big bet on its business in Mexico, where futbol americano is the second most popular sport. The country hosted for years the biggest attendance to a single NFL game in 2005, when 103,467 fans saw Arizona Cardinals vs San Francisco 49ers.

That record was broken in 2009 when 105,121 saw Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants at the AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys happen to be one of the most popular teams among Hispanics, along with Las Vegas Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers and both New York sides, the Jets and the Giants.

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