Around the NFL, training camps are about to get underway. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, some of the world's best athletes are going head-to-head in the Summer Olympics. American football, of course, is not part of the international competition, having appeared just twice in the Olympic Games -- in 1904 and 1932, each time as a demonstration sport rather than medal competition. But what if the gridiron were a regular part of the world's biggest athletic stage? Who would represent Team USA, and who would suit up for other countries?
We're so glad you asked. In the spirit of Olympic battles, we combed through the best of the best football players -- both American and otherwise -- to project lineups for a would-be Team USA and Team World, with the latter comprised of the best active or recently active pros born outside the United States:
|WR||DeAndre Hopkins||Cardinals||South Carolina|
|LG||Quenton Nelson||Colts||New Jersey|
If Team USA reads like a standard All-Pro team, that's because it basically is. And it's a testament to the star power of American-born talent in the sport, which is called American football for a reason. The U.S. boasts a clear majority of the world's greatest current football players, but that's probably partially because other countries don't also boast the platform that is the NFL. It would be hard for any lineup to beat this one, and that would probably remain true even if you swapped out every starter with other NFL elites a good three or four times. Who's betting against them dropping 45 points in any given matchup?
If Team USA is indicative of America's monopoly on pro football talent, Team World is doubly representative of the rest of the globe playing catch-up. Just look at the most important position: Unless you're inspired by Broncos reserve Brett Rypien, RGIII arguably offers the most upside, and he just retired from the NFL after an extended run as a backup. At least the pass catchers and offensive linemen offer significant NFL experience. Oh, and you didn't think you'd get rid of Tim Tebow that easily, did you? The guy's never played tight end until now, but if anyone's built to flex their athleticism on this kind of stage, it's him.