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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 19:28 GMT 20:28 UK
Breaking America
By Sharif Omar

Lorn Mayers
Mayers only took the sport up two years ago
At 6ft 3ins and 25 stone, Lorn Mayers certainly catches the eye. And soon he could have a reputation to match his massive stature.

The 20-year-old defensive tackle is bidding to become only the second British-born non-kicker, after former Indianapolis running back Owen Gill, to play in the NFL.

Last year he almost made it when he was picked up by the Oakland Raiders, becoming the youngest player ever signed by an NFL team.

But he missed out on a permanent position in the side and was released just before the start of the season.

Now the defensive tackle is preparing for the start of the NFL Europe season with the Berlin Thunder and plotting how to make it in America.

"It would be a dream come true if I could make it in the NFL one day," he told BBC Sport.

"I loved my time with the Raiders. It was a shock walking into a stadium full of screaming fans during the pre-season games - it was out of this world."

The playbooks were very complicated at Oakland and I didn't understand everything that was going on
Lorn Mayers
Remarkably, Mayers' gridiron career began only two years ago when he joined the London Blitz.

"A friend of mine was going to play college football in the States and told me I should try American football because of my size," he says

"So I looked for teams on the internet and found the Blitz."

He was an instant hit with the club, playing starring roles in both their junior and senior teams, and was selected for the British youth team in his first season.

Then he was invited for trials by NFL Europe, and after three stages of intense trials against experienced players from all over the world, earned a place on the Berlin Thunder roster.

In just one year he had gone from a complete novice to a squad member of an NFL Europe franchise.

Yet his phenomenal progress did not stop there. Soon he was catching the eye of the big boys in the NFL and one day the Oakland Raiders phoned out of the blue to invite him to one of their training camps.

"At first I thought it was a friend playing a practical joke on me," he admits.

"They had been watching training highlights of another player they had sent to play in Europe and I just happened to be in the same footage.

"When I arrived in Oakland it still didn't sink in that I would be playing in the NFL. None of it seemed real."

The standards at the franchise were far in excess of anything he had encountered before.

I'm focused on returning to full fitness and reaching my full potential
Lorn Mayers
"The playbooks were very complicated and I didn't always understand everything that was going on," he admits.

"Some of the experienced players would go through the plays with me again once meetings were over and help me out."

And he did not manage to escape the traditional NFL "initiation".

"I had to stand up and sing the national anthem in a defensive meeting in front of all my team mates while they all laughed and cheered me on," he says.

Now he is focusing on excelling for Berlin and hopefully getting another shot at the NFL.

"I am just focused on overcoming my knee injury suffered at training camp and returning to full fitness and reaching my full potential," he says.

Another good season at full fitness with Berlin should certainly bring Mayers within touching distance of fulfilling his dream of playing in the NFL.

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