Home American Football Dan Whelan: The Wicklow Wonder Set to Make NFL History as First Irish Player Since the ’80s

Dan Whelan: The Wicklow Wonder Set to Make NFL History as First Irish Player Since the ’80s

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NFL History

Watch: Daniel Whelan, Born in Wicklow, Discusses His XFL Experience, NFL Aspirations, and Punting for Green Bay

Breaking through a nearly 40-year gap, Dan Whelan, hailing from Wicklow, Ireland, has clinched a spot on the Green Bay Packers’ roster, becoming the first Irish athlete to do so since Neil O’Donoghue in 1985.

On Tuesday evening, 24-year-old kicker Whelan got the nod as part of the Packers’ finalized 53-player lineup for the upcoming NFL season.

After the Green Bay Packers parted ways with punter Pat O’Donnell on Monday, Whelan’s roster spot seemed almost preordained.

Neil O’Donoghue, the last man from the Emerald Isle to grace an NFL field, took snaps for the St. Louis Cardinals back in ’85 and even had some memorable moments with the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers during his eight-year career.

Whelan’s Journey to Become the NFL’s Next Irish Sensation

O’Donoghue, now enjoying his 70s, could soon be passing the Irish NFL torch to young Whelan.

Originally born in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, the Whelan clan relocated to Palm Springs, California, when Dan was just entering his teenage years.

Switching gears from soccer during his high school years, he initially stepped onto the gridiron as a kicker. Later, Whelan honed his punting skills while attending the University of California, Davis.

A Moment in the Spotlight: Whelan Kicks Off Against the St. Louis Battlehawks in XFL Action

Whelan is nothing short of an imposing figure at 6 feet 6 inches and weighing in at a solid 98 kilograms (15st 5lb). If you’ve been keeping tabs on him on social media, you’ll know he’s been anything but coy about showcasing his monstrous kicks, be it a staggering 73-yard field goal or a punt that nearly exits the atmosphere.

Not just a strong leg, Whelan has also perfected the art of ‘hang time,’ a crucial skill set for NFL punters. This essentially means that his kicks stay airborne long enough to offer his special teams unit the golden opportunity to trap opponents deep in their own territory.

Drawing NFL Attention Through College Excellence

Whelan’s remarkable college performances, where he averaged a 44-yard punt, caught the attention of NFL scouts early on.

Initially, he got an opportunity to audition his talents for the New Orleans Saints in 2022 before Green Bay decided he was their guy.

The Road to Green Bay: Stellar XFL Performances

Before making it to the big league, Whelan turned heads in the XFL, playing for the DC Defenders. During his time there, he ranked third in his position and was the league leader in hang time.

Whelan outshone Pat O’Donnell, an experienced player with nine NFL seasons to his name—most recently with the Packers—during the pre-season training sessions, thus solidifying his spot on the team.

Keep your eye on the gridiron and be sure to set those American Football alerts on your Sport News Center app for all the latest NFL fixtures and results.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NFL History

Who is Dan Whelan?

Dan Whelan, originally from Wicklow, Ireland, is a 24-year-old kicker who has made history by becoming the first Irish NFL player since 1985. He has earned a spot on the Green Bay Packers’ roster for the upcoming season.

How did Dan Whelan end up in the NFL?

Whelan’s journey to the NFL began with his transition from soccer to American football during high school. He initially started as a kicker and later became a punter while attending the University of California, Davis. His outstanding performances, including a remarkable punt average of 44 yards, caught the attention of NFL scouts.

What role did XFL play in Dan Whelan’s career?

Before making it to the NFL, Whelan had a successful stint in the XFL, playing for the DC Defenders. He ranked third in his position and led the league in hang time, showcasing his kicking prowess and skills.

How did Dan Whelan stand out in pre-season training?

Whelan’s dedication and performance during pre-season training caught the attention of the Green Bay Packers. His abilities, including a strong leg and impressive hang time, set him apart from the competition and earned him a spot on the team.

What is Dan Whelan’s impact on Irish sports history?

Dan Whelan’s selection as an NFL player marks a significant milestone in Irish sports history. He is the first Irishman to play in the NFL since Neil O’Donoghue in 1985, and his journey from Wicklow to the NFL serves as an inspiration to aspiring athletes in Ireland.

What are Dan Whelan’s aspirations in the NFL?

Dan Whelan’s aspirations include making a mark as an Irish athlete in the NFL. With his kicking skills, hang time expertise, and determination, he aims to contribute to the Green Bay Packers’ success and establish his legacy in the league.

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