The New York Jets have enjoyed American football exploits from across the Atlantic Ocean. Jet X looks back as Europe Day gets underway.
Europe Day, a celebration of peace and unity on the continent, is annually celebrated on May 9.
In celebration, Jet X looks back on the finest players from across the pond to ever don green, not of Ireland, but of the New York Jets.
DB Chris Farasopoulos (Greece)
Everyone’s talking about a certain BYU draftee on the current Jets’ roster, but today belongs to Chris Farasopoulos. The Athens native, chosen in the third round of the 1971 draft, partook in 42 NFL games, the most among all Greek-born players.
Farasopoulos is perhaps better known for his antics in the return game, as he and John Riggins opened the 1972 campaign with consecutive touchdowns. Riggins scored on a 16-yard rush while Farasopoulos took a punt back 65 yards to open the scoring in what became a 41-24 win over Buffalo.
Farasopoulos spent three seasons in New York before playing one more in New Orleans.
K Bobby Howfield (England)
After over a decade of playing a different kind of football, Bobby Howfield entered the NFL at the age of 32 in 1968 for the Denver Broncos. He joined the Jets for the first of four seasons in 1971, notably finishing second in the league in successful attempts in 1972.
Howfield accounted for all scoring in a December win over New Orleans, booting six in an 18-17 triumph on his 36th birthday. His son Ian kicked for the Houston Oilers for two seasons and later made a name for himself in the Arena Football League record book, a tenure that included a stop with the New York Dragons.
WR David Knight (Italy)
Born in Trieste, David Knight is the only Italian-born player to score an NFL touchdown in the Super Bowl era. Four came from Joe Namath in during the 1974 season, including one in the second-ever matchup between the Jets and Giants.
He carved out a respectable career as an 11th-round pick, lasting five years in green.
K Nick Lowery (Germany)
Nick Lowery spent the final three seasons of an 18-year NFL career (1994-96) with the Jets. Though best known for his exploits with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Munich native left his mark in green.
His conversion rate in 1994 (87 percent) was fourth-best in the NFL and stands as the sixth-best single-season mark in Jets history. In that same season, he earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors by serving as the literal difference with 10 points in a 16-6 win over Indianapolis.
CB Ray Mickens (Germany)
Ray Mickens was born in Frankfurt, the son of Leonard, a U.S. Army veteran who later returned to Texas and worked with the U.S. Postal Service for over two decades. The younger Mickens would go on to to be a two-sport athlete (also starring on the track team) at Texas A&M before the Jets took him in the third round of the 1996 draft.
He’d go on to play the first nine of 11 NFL seasons in New York, playing in eight playoff games in that span and becoming renowned for his work in the nickel.
FB Tony Richardson (Germany)
Another Frankfurt native, Tony Richardson‘s father Ben, was stationed as a sergeant major in the U.S. Army. He didn’t see an American football game until seventh grade when the Richardson returned to America and settled in Alabama.
Despite the late introduction, Richardson last 17 years in the NFL and even appeared on the league’s All-2000s team. The last three years of that illustrious career (2008-10) were spent in green, serving as a reliable blocker in front of Thomas Jones.
Richardson won the Byron “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year Award after his final season for his community service efforts.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags