Local Players Celebrate Ancestry, Culture With 2023 NFL Heritage Program

Oct 19, 2023, 7:11 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2023, 4:57 pm


Tyler Allgeier #25 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 10, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Multiple local players plan to celebrate their ancestry and cultural roots as the league honors international diversity with the NFL Heritage Program for the 2023 season.

2023 NFL Heritage Program

During Week 7 and 8 of the 2023 season, players across the NFL will commemorate their cultural roots. Over 330 players and coaches and more than 70 nations will be represented.

A group of local NFL players will participate in the league’s Heritage Program by wearing international flag decals on their helmets. Players “can choose to wear the flag of an international country or territory where relatives have been born or where they’ve lived for over two years. Players will wear these flag decals alongside the American flag, and are able to represent their backgrounds throughout the remainder of the season,” according to NFL.com.

Former BYU and current Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua is one of the local players to participate in the program. The Orem High product will sport the Samoan flag on his Rams helmet.

“My grandmother was born and raised in Samoa, and recently left us in 2021,” Nacua said via NFL.com. “To be able to represent our family’s heritage and feel like she is here with me on the field is the most incredible thing. I’m proud to play for all of our Samoan fans out there and can hopefully inspire future generations of Samoan athletes.”

Local players in NFL Heritage Program

Here is the list of local NFL players participating in the Heritage Program and which countries they’ll represent:

Former Utah Utes

  • Leki Fotu – Arizona Cardinals – Tonga
  • Dalton Kincaid – Buffalo Bills – Canada
  • Julian Blackmon – Indianapolis Colts – Samoa
  • Matt Gay – Indianapolis Colts – United Kingdom
  • Bradlee Anae – New York Jets – Samoa, The Cook Islands
  • Britain Covey – Philadelphia Eagles – Chile
  • Mitch Wishnowsky – San Francisco 49ers – Australia
  • Alex Whittingham – Kansas City Chiefs – New Zealand

Former BYU Cougars

  • Tyler Allgeier – Atlanta Falcons – Phillipines
  • Puka Nacua – Los Angeles Rams – Samoa
  • Khyiris Tonga – Minnesota Vikings – Tonga
  • Fred Warner – San Francisco 49ers – Mexico
  • Harvey Langi – Free Agent – Tonga

Former Utah State Aggies

  • Tyler Larsen – Washington Commanders – Norway

Former Weber State Wildcats

  • Sua Opeta – Philadelphia Eagles – American Samoa

Former High School Standouts

  • Kaden Elliss – Atlanta Falcons – Samoa (Judge Memorial)
  • Penei Sewell – Detroit Lions – American Samoa (Desert Hills)

“As we continue to prioritize the NFL’s growth globally, we’re proud to have our players and coaches honor their backgrounds through the NFL Heritage Program,” Peter O’Reilly of the NFL said. “This initiative allows us to celebrate the heritage, families and cultures that make up the fabric of the League, and truly showcases the growing global reach and impact of the sport of football and the NFL.”

Kyle Ireland is a Sports Producer and Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com. He’s also co-host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on X/Twitter (@kyleireland), Instagram (@kyleirelandksl), and Threads (@kyleirelandksl).

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Local Players Celebrate Ancestry, Culture With 2023 NFL Heritage Program