My Voice: Justin Forsett Spreads Football To Italy


My Voice will be an occasional blog from running back Justin Forsett with his personal insight.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has stressed his desire to grow the American football brand abroad. As part of the NFL International Series, the NFL has played games in London since 2007. This year, the league will go back to Mexico for the first time since 2005. Now the commissioner is looking at playing a regular-season game in China as soon as 2018. Well, Forsett is doing his part, as he went to Italy last week for a football* *camp with Florence's semi-professional team, Guelfi Firenze. Here's his experience:

Well our trip started off rocky. I thought I was a goner.

The winds, especially in Florence, were tricky to say the least. Our flight stopped over in Frankfurt, Germany. It was like an hour-long flight, so the plane wasn't that big. Everything was fine, but when we came into our descent, the plane's wings started rocking and we were making huge drops.

I looked over and the lady beside me was clenching the seat in front of her. I was trying to remain cool, but it kept getting worse. I keep being like, 'Oh man, this ain't going to be the way I'm going to go on a plane on the way to Italy.' My hands start inching up on the seat. This is why I don't do roller coasters, because I don't do drops well. We're dropping almost every 15 seconds. There was definitely some prayers going on. I was thinking of all the Bible verses I could think of.

We came in and landed and the nose of the plane is up and we just start jumping up. It was brutal. I was so thankful to be on the ground.

Once we got there, things were awesome. I was there through a combination of Athletes In Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and some local people with the Italian football league. I do public speaking during the offseason and that's how it started. We're trying to go global. My booking agent reached out to some people and they said they wanted me to do a camp.

This football league is awesome. They are so eager to learn. They were hanging on my every word that myself and other coaches from the States were saying. It's like when you start playing football in Pop Warner. Your eyes are big and you're hanging on every word. It was refreshing to see. I feel like we lose some of that when we get to the pros.

It was awesome being able to teach fundamental things to help their game. There are two or three Americans on each team, but Americans can't play on the field at the same time. There's one on offense, defense and special teams. It was cool just trying to help them.

They're at the very beginning levels of football over there. Being able to help them expand such a young sport was so rewarding. Plus, I got to pour into their lives outside of football.

While I was over there, we added on an event with Samaritan's Feet. My family and I didn't just want to do football, but we wanted to serve people around us and make a wider impact. I've worked with them before, giving shoes away, washing people's feet, loving on kids and helping people in need. It's fun to say, 'Hey man, it's not about us, we're here to serve you.'

Now, I don't know how sustainable it would be to have a team abroad. But expanding the brand internationally would be a great thing for the game. A lot of great things come from football. I was talking to somebody the other day about the social aspects of it, how to be a leader, how to serve, how to be accountable, how to have good teamwork. I'm all about spreading the game as far as possible.

Still, you can tell that soccer is dominant there. Every shop has the local team's gear. American football is making inroads though. The place where we actually had the camp, it's one of three facilities in the country that's strictly for American football.

I can't write about Italy without writing about the food. The food is unbelievable. No offense to Carrabba's or Olive Garden, but they're doing it wrong. I've never been an Italian food junkie. I love pasta, but this is next level. This has changed my palate forever.

I also really loved the community feel. They take things a lot slower than we do. They have a siesta in the middle of their day! You sit down and have dinner and it's like two or three hours and they're just relaxing and talking. It's cool to see how much they value family.

Clip from Camp #Italy #Downhill #PeepTheVarsityBluesJersey

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Can't get over all the cool people I met in Italy this week!

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