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Latinos tackle the NFL
The NFL has a growing number of Latino talent on the field, from players like Victor Cruz to coaches like Ron Rivera. With over 30 players recognized as having Latino roots this season, here are the starters to look out for.  

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DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 13: Tight end Mychal Rivera #81 of the Oakland Raiders secures the ball after a catch before being hit by inside linebacker Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos during a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 13, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(2015 Getty Images)

Victor Cruz, Wide Receiver for New York Giants

Since his breakout Super Bowl championship season with the New York Giants, Victor Cruz has danced his way into the hearts of football fans around the country.

One of the most popular players in the league, known for his salsa dance moves in the end zone after scoring a touchdown, Cruz is making a name for himself early on in his career.

The Puerto Rican undrafted free agent from the University of Massachusetts signed with the Giants in 2010.

However it was not until the following season that Cruz really proved his worth, helping his team make an unlikely run at an NFL championship.

Cruz’s rapid ascent to the top of the NFL record books is almost unheard of for a player at his age. 

In his first 25 games with the NFL, Cruz recorded 135 catches tying for the sixth most in the league’s history.

The same year Cruz smashed a Giants’ franchise record with a recorded 1,536 receive yards.

So far in 2012 Cruz is on pace to have an equally impressive season .

(2012 Getty Images)

Mark Sanchez, Quarterback for the New York Jets

Quarterback Mark Sanchez has gained tremendous popularity among the Mexican-American community ever since his college football days at the University of Southern California.

Many were surprised by his decision to enter the NFL draft in 2009 saying that the quarterback did not have enough experience.

But the New York Jets thought otherwise, using their 5th overall draft pick to claim Sanchez.

Named the starting quarterback in his rookie season, Sanchez helped lead the Jets to the AFC Championship game.

While the team ultimately lost, the team’s overall playoff run was a huge fete for Sanchez who became only the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first playoff game. and the second to win two playoff games.

Leading the Jets to a second consecutive AFC Championship Game in 2010 Sanchez continued to set records early on in his career.

In leading the Jets to two consecutive conference championships, Sanchez joined quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the only two quarterbacks in NFL history to reach the conference championship in their first two seasons in the league.

Since 2010, Sanchez has struggled as a player earning more attention for his high profile love life then his skills on the field.

In 2012 the Jets addition of fan favorite quarterback Tim Tebow created a storm of controversy for the Latino footballer.

(2012 Getty Images)

Ron Rivera, Head coach for the Carolina Panthers

Rivera became only the third Hispanic head coach in league history when he took over the Carolina Panthers. Born to a Puerto Rican commissioned officer in the United States Army  and Mexican mother, Rivera moved around as a child before beginning his football career at a high school in California.

In 1985 Rivera became the first Puerto Rican to play on a Super Bowl Championship Team, winning a ring as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears.

He began his coaching career with the Bears as well in 1996. After moving from coaching positions with the Philadelphia Eagles, back to the Bears, and then to the San Diego Chargers, Rivera was named head coach of the Panthers in 2011.

(2012 Getty Images)

Tony Gonzalez, Tight End for the Atlanta Falcons

Gonzalez, who is of Mexican and Portuguese descent, is a veteran of the NFL.

A 12 time Pro-bowl selection, Gonzalez is a record breaking tight end.

Gonzalez current holds the NFL records for most receptions by a tight end in a single season (102 in 2004) and in a career (1,175) along with career tight end records for touchdowns (101) and reception yards (13,603).

Still having yet to get a playoff win, in 2012 this could all change.

After attempting to retire during the NFL lockout in 2011, Gonzalez could not be happier about the Atlanta Falcons potential Super Bowl appearance this season.

(2012 Getty Images)

Tony Romo, Quarterback for Dallas Cowboys

Since being picked up by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted agent in 2003, Tony Romo has made headlines.

The three time Pro Bowl selection has battled consistent scrutiny over his lackluster performance on the field.

Since taking over the starting quarterback position in 2006, Romo has broken Dallas Cowboy team records yet only had one career playoff win to his credit.

Romo currently holds the 4th place NFL records for all-time career passing rating and yards per attempt.

(2012 Getty Images)

Willie Colon, Left Guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Bronx born Willie Colon is proud of his Puerto Rican heritage.

A fourth round draft pick out of Hofstra University, Colon made his NFL debut as a rookie in 2006.

Since then, Colon was a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl XLIII championship team.

Last year Colon signed a five-year deal worth $29 million with the Steelers.

(2012 Getty Images)

Roberto Garza, Guard for the Chicago Bears

Garza was born to Mexican immigrants in Rio Hondo, Texas.

After a Marine recruiter discouraged him from pursuing a career in the NFL because of his heritage, Garza became adamant to prove him wrong.

Garza, who was a walk on player for Texas A&M University-Kingsville, was drafted in 2001.

After playing with the Atlanta Falcons, Garza found a more permanent home with the Bears when he signed a six year extension contract in 2006.

At the time Garza was only 1 of 17 Latino players in the league.

(2012 Getty Images)

Latinos tackle the NFL

The NFL has a growing number of Latino talent on the field, from players like Victor Cruz to coaches like Ron Rivera. With over 30 players recognized as having Latino roots this season, here are the starters to look out for.  

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