Why Is American Samoa Known as “Football Island”?

Located in the South Pacific, roughly halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, American Samoa has been a U.S. territory since 1900. One of the archipelago's biggest claims to fame is that it produces more NFL players, per capita, than anywhere else in the world, earning it the nickname "Football Island." Even though the territory's total population is less than 56,000, there were 30 American Samoans on NFL rosters in 2015. Also as of 2015, another 200 athletes from American Samoa were playing NCAA Division 1 college football. In fact, a Samoan man is 56 times more likely to play professional football than a non-Samoan American.

Extra points about Samoa:

  • When you look at the islands of Polynesia as a whole -- including Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Easter Island, and New Zealand -- there are more than 70 people of Polynesian descent in the National Football League.
  • The Samoan culture stresses self-discipline, respect, and spirituality. Athletes are typically humble and polite (qualities appreciated by coaches), and players tend to be large, strong, and fast. American Samoa also has the highest rate of military enlistment of anywhere in the United States.
  • Tuna fishing, processing, and canning are the backbone of American Samoa's economy, as well as a growing tourism industry. Controversially, most American Samoans are U.S. nationals but are not U.S. citizens.
More Info: Forbes

Discussion Comments


Their legs tend to be a bit shorter than most which means they can move faster for short distances. It's a good trait to have in the NFL.

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