Cardinals sign AFL player


The Arizona Cardinals have signed Joel Wilkinson from the AFL in Australia, it was announced on Tuesday.

Wilkinson, 24, retired as an AFL player to pursue an NFL career as a cornerback.

Born to a Nigerian father and Australian mother, Wilkinson played for Gold Coast Suns from 2011-13, and then featured in 27 games for Northern Blues with five goals.

"Naturally people are going to assume I'm a punter coming from my sport," Wilkinson said. "But cornerback is a position very similar to what I played in Australia.

"There is much more I need to improve on and prepare for, but I'm committed."

Wilkinson, who was subjected to racial abuse during his career in the AFL, joins former Australian rugby league player Jarryd Hayne, a running back with the San Francisco 49ers, as NFL players from Down Under.

The Cardinals, though, are no strangers to Australian players after former AFL forward Ben Graham punted for Arizona from 2008-11.

Arizona were also the first team to draft a Australian when they selected defensive end Colin Scotts in the third round of the 1987 NFL Draft.