Prince Harry Jokes That Americans 'Stole Rugby From Us' During Surprise NFL Honors Appearance

"I really love how you stole rugby from us and you made it your own," the Duke of Sussex told the audience at the event

<p>Perry Knotts/Getty</p>

Perry Knotts/Getty

Prince Harry is poking fun at the similarities between the NFL and the English-created sport of rugby.

The Duke of Sussex, 39, made a surprise appearance at Thursday's NFL Honors to present the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward. As he took the stage, Harry joked about how the American game came into being.

"Good evening, NFL. It's an honor to be with you all tonight. I really love how you stole rugby from us and you made it your own," Harry said in his speech, as seen in a video posted on X.

"Instead of passing it backwards, just pass it forwards. Why not wear pads and a helmet? Of course, have an offense and defense, that makes sense," the Duke of Sussex joked.

Harry playfully added, "And why not take a breather every 15 seconds? And you know what, instead of a 10-month season, let's just make it 18 weeks. Genius."

<p>Todd Rosenberg/Getty</p> Cameron Hayward (L) of the Pittsburgh Steelers poses for a portrait after winning the Walter Payton Man of the year with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex at the 13th Annual NFL Honors on February 8, 2024 in Las Vegas

Related: Prince Harry Has 'No Plans' to Reunite with Brother Prince William During U.K. Visit, Says Source

Before presenting Heyward with his award, Prince Harry honored the talent of NFL players, and the defensive tackle in particular: "All you guys do on and off the field is truly remarkable," he said.

"You are role models for millions in the way you carry yourselves and the way you give back. This final award, the highest honor, is all about serving your community. And there's one special man we'd like to pay tribute to now. A player who goes above and beyond and whose extraordinary commitment to helping others is a reflection of his own story," he continued.

Related: King Charles Personally Shared Cancer Diagnosis with Prince Harry, Prince William and Family

The Duke of Sussex's appearance in Las Vegas came just hours after he returned to California after a quick visit to the U.K. to see his father, King Charles, following the monarch's recent cancer diagnosis.

On Monday, Buckingham Palace announced that the King, 75, had been diagnosed with cancer after undergoing a procedure to treat an enlarged prostate.

"During The King's recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted. Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer," the palace said in a statement.

"His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties. Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual," the statement continued.

<p>Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage</p> King Charles, Prince Harry.

Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

King Charles, Prince Harry.

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"The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure. He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible," the statement added.

"His Majesty has chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer."

Prince Harry made the brief trip to the U.K. without his wife, Meghan Markle, and their children, Prince Archie, 4, and Princess Lilibet, 2, who stayed at home in California.

Harry and Meghan moved to the U.S. after stepping back as senior royals in 2020.

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