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London Matchup Would Be Homecoming Game For Ravens Rookie Jermaine Eluemunor

August 15, 2017
The Ravens' trip to London for their Sept. 24 International Series matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars will unquestionably mean the most to one Raven in particular.

"I had the dream of playing in the NFL -- playing in Wembley Stadium one day," said rookie offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor, a fifth-round pick out of Texas A&M and a London native who potentially could play in his hometown.

Eluemunor was 12 when he watched the New York Giants face the Miami Dolphins on British television in October 2007. It was the first regular-season NFL game played outside of North America. To that point of his life, Eluemunor had played soccer and rugby. After that game, he had a new passion. 

"I wanted to play in the NFL," Eluemunor said. "That's why I started playing."

Of course, it wasn't as easy for Eluemunor to get into the sport as it would have been if he was growing up in, say, Parkville, Md. 

"I Googled a bunch of teams around the area and found out about [British American football team] the London Blitz," Eluemunor said. "I went from there to trying to get into it and went through a tryout and made the team and just practiced with them."

He continued to watch and enjoy American football as well. With no British-born heroes to follow, he was a fan of players such as New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan because of that first game he watched. 

Eluemunor continued his football dream when he moved to the U.S. with his father at the age of 14. His dream became reality after he transferred from Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania to Texas A&M, which gave him the opportunity to be drafted. But as a mid-round pick, Eluemunor isn't ready to make any assumptions about being on the field for the Ravens' Week 3 game. 

"I've thought about it, but I want to get through training camp and make sure I make a name for myself here so I can get to that point," Eluemunor said. "I don't want to think ahead."

His friends and family, however, are certainly thinking about it. Eluemunor said he has a great support system in his native country -- a group that would be thrilled to see him take the field in his hometown. 

"I'm sure it would be really dope for them to see a little boy from London, England, go back to London to play an American football game," Eluemunor said. "When you move from another country to play a sport and only 1.5 percent of people [who play in college] play this game -- it was hard to get here, but knowing I have the chance to play there is the motivation." 

The 22-year-old also knows he could now be the inspiration for a new generation of British football fans. 

"I feel like since I'm here now, kids over there will think, ‘If he made it, then why can't I?'" Eluemunor said. "'If he came from another country to play the sport, then why can't I play the sport?' They won't let things get in the way of that. They'll put everything they have in order to achieve that dream. So hopefully me being here is a sign to them that they can achieve whatever they want to achieve if they put their minds to it and just work hard."

Some Ravens fans have wondered if the Jaguars will have a distinct home-field advantage in London because of the annual games the team has played there since 2013 (and will continue to play through 2020). Eluemunor said that isn't the case. 

"I feel like people are just fans of the game, period," Eluemunor said. "The sport has grown over there from when I was over there; it's just huge now. It's a lot bigger now. It's fun to see how big the sport's grown over there and how big it keeps growing yearly." 

As far as what Ravens fans should do while they're in his backyard, Eluemunor has suggestions.

"Eat the food over there; go explore," Eluemunor said. "Camden Town, where I'm from, is a big touristy place. See the River Thames. Go on the London Eye. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, just all of London because it's really cool cultural-wise."

At 330 pounds, Eluemunor believes he's quite the expert on food. He specifically suggested fans visit Blue Sea Fish Bar near his neighborhood of Chalk Farm to try the "chips and saveloy." (Saveloy is a sausage made of salted pork.)

However, when the subject veered to his Ravens teammates regarding what he wants them to experience when they visit his hometown, Eluemunor had a succinct answer.