In what’s believed to be an NFL first, 65 people from 38 countries became US citizens at a Jaguars game

Posted at 1:51 PM, Dec 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-18 16:17:19-05

Improbable as it may sound, Sunday’s NFL matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Redskins might have been the most American football game ever played.

Sixty-five people from 38 different countries became US citizens during a naturalization ceremony on the field at halftime. Four of the new citizens serve in the US military.

The ceremony, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, is believed to be the first naturalization event ever at an NFL game, the Jaguars told CNN.

The Jaguars lost the game, 16-13. But the day held particular significance for Jaguars owner Shad Khan, a Pakistani immigrant who has lived in the United States since 1967.

“It was a moving experience and a fabulous event, I am a first-generation immigrant who went through the ceremony myself in 1991,” Khan told CNN. “I know it’s an important day in the lives of the participants, and that’s why I want to make this ceremony a tradition at Jaguars games in the years ahead.”

The NFL is not the first major American sports league to hold a naturalization ceremony during a game. That distinction belongs to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, who naturalized 50 citizens during a ceremony at halftime of a game in February 2016.

Additionally, in June MLB’s Detroit Tigers held a pregame naturalization ceremony that was notable for including two of the team’s own players, Jose Iglesias and Leonys Martin.

Here is the full list of countries represented at Sunday’s ceremony: Germany, Venezuela, Canada, Russia, Jamaica, the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Albania, Israel, Italy, Cote d’Ivoire, Nepal, Mexico, Belize, Uruguay, Liberia, India, Iraq, Cuba, Panama, New Zealand, Colombia, Iran, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Hungary, Vietnam, Dominica, Congo (Kinshasa), Nigeria, Ethiopia, Fiji Islands, Peru, Sudan, China, Guatemala, Kenya, Nicaragua and the Bahamas.