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Published: June 6, 2014 at 12:00 p.m.
Updated: June 13, 2014 at 01:32 a.m.

The NFL's World Cup team

The world's biggest sporting event kicked off on Thursday when the World Cup host country of Brazil beat Croatia to begin the road toward determining a true world champion.

In some strange alternate universe (or, if only in the mind of an NFL.com editor), the NFL has a World Cup team. What you will see below is a starting 11 of the game's greatest players placed in soccer football positions where they could conceivably succeed. Just like with the U.S. Men's National Team and its surprising cut of Landon Donovan, there were some difficult decisions to make with this team, too.

12 Photos Total

  • Goalkeeper - J.J. Watt 12

    Goalkeeper - J.J. Watt

    At 6-foot-5 and 289 pounds, Watt would be a formidable and intimidating presence between the pipes, but his knack for batting away balls has reached a near-mythical status in a very short period of time.

  • Defender - Richard Sherman 11

    Defender - Richard Sherman

    Seattle's famed "Legion of Boom" needs to be represented in Brazil. How great would it be to see Sherman giving Portugal's explosive goal scorer Cristiano Ronaldo the business while on the pitch? Though, we're not quite sure a player of Ronaldo's quality would get the same level of verbal beatdown Sherman administered to Michael Crabtree.

  • Defender - Jadeveon Clowney 10

    Defender - Jadeveon Clowney

    Teaming Clowney with Watt not only will be a boon for their club team in Houston, but also for this NFL World Cup squad. Clowney's devastating combination of size and speed makes him an easy plug-and-play option to serve as the last line of defense against some of the world's greatest footballers.

  • Defender - Luke Kuechly 9

    Defender - Luke Kuechly

    Honored with his domestic league's defensive player of the year award in 2013, Kuechly is a fast-riser among his peers and was chosen over more established star defensive players. Kuechly's speed and sideline-to-sideline range -- not to mention his tackling ability -- will be a dangerous proposition for any oncoming striker.

  • Defender - Darrelle Revis 8

    Defender - Darrelle Revis

    With a much-ballyhooed offseason transfer from Tampa Bay to New England comfortably in the rearview mirror, Revis can finally focus on what's really important, the 2014 World Cup. Opposing strikers will learn what many opponents in America have learned over the years ... that it is wise to stay away from Revis Island. Revis will man up against the world's best strikers, helping reduce German goal-scoring maestro Miroslav Klose to a nonfactor.

  • Midfield - Larry Fitzgerald 7

    Midfield - Larry Fitzgerald

    Fitzgerald is the veteran of this starting 11, and therefore an appropriate candidate to wear the captain's armband when the NFL World Cup team takes to the pitch in Brazil. The fact that he has shown an ability to make a big play when needed most is an added bonus.

  • Midfield - Adrian Peterson 6

    Midfield - Adrian Peterson

    "All Day" is the ideal candidate to be this team's No. 10. Peterson possesses a sort of clairvoyant capacity to control the flow of play from midfield. Peterson's physical -- often seemingly angry and violent -- running style will make him a true manifestation of intimidation in the midfield and set the ideal tone for this team. His added ability to score from anywhere on the field has made him one of this generation's greatest players.

  • Midfield - Johnny Manziel 5

    Midfield - Johnny Manziel

    To the rest of the world, he's Johnny Football. But here in America, he's known as Johnny Soccer. Manziel's capabilities for creating a big play out of a seemingly hopeless situation is only topped by an extraordinary charisma that can galvanize a team. Manziel displayed some of that charisma when he bombastically boasted, "We're going to wreck this World Cup."

  • Midfield - Andrew Luck 4

    Midfield - Andrew Luck

    Having grown up overseas and played the game there as well, Luck has a highly developed passion for the sport. This experience and fervor for football, coupled with his athletic ability to get outside into space and make plays with his feet, make Luck a natural for this team.

  • Forward - Calvin Johnson 3

    Forward - Calvin Johnson

    A rare blend of size, speed, strength, body control and leaping ability makes Johnson a dangerous proposition for even the most stout defense. The one affectionately called "Megatron" has developed quite a reputation as a playmaker. Now that he has excelled at an elite level in football in America, it's time to take those talents to an international stage.

  • Forward - Jimmy Graham 2

    Forward - Jimmy Graham

    Graham has an uncanny knack for creating scoring opportunities. However, his extravagant scoring celebrations might earn him a yellow card.

  • Coach - Pete Carroll 1

    Coach - Pete Carroll

    Carroll's rah-rah enthusiasm and championship pedigree were contributing factors to his being named the NFL World Cup team's manager, as was the soccer-crazy environment in which he is encompassed by in Seattle.

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