bubba9497 Posted May 16, 2005 Share Posted May 16, 2005 What's the deal with NFL Europe? http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/ Now that the NFL draft is over and Mel Kiper's hair has disappeared from our TV screens, fans face the prospect of more than two months without a football fix. That is, unless they tune in to NFL Europe, which not only will satisfy their football appetite but also could introduce them to some future NFL players. You might not be familiar with members of the Berlin Thunder or Amsterdam Admirals. That's OK. You didn't know much about Adam Vinatieri or Jake Delhomme, either, when they were playing across the pond. We're not saying the next Super Bowl hero is playing in Cologne, but if you do your homework--and this is Lesson 1--you'll be ready when the next NFL Europe standout emerges in the NFL. And besides, watching any kind of football is better than sitting through a baseball game, isn't it? WORLD BOWL HOME GAME? Not likely. World Bowl 13 will be held June 11 at spanking new LTU Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany, home of the last-place Rhein Fire. Unlike the Super Bowl, which never has had the team from the host city play for the title, six World Bowls have featured host teams. Their record: 3-3. COLOR AND PAGEANTRY European fans enjoy a party as much as anybody. Teams stage pregame "power parties" that feature concerts, the interactive NFL Experience and, yes, tailgating. But Eurofans don't crank up the grills and open the coolers as much as Americans. Many take public transportation to the games and arrive to enjoy the pre-planned events, which begin as early as five hours before kickoff. Your best bet for a rollicking good pregame warmup: home games involving the Frankfurt Galaxy or Rhein Fire. THE COWBOY Remember the Barcelona Dragons? So does Jack Bicknell. When NFL Europe debuted as the World League of American Football in 1991, Bicknell was there, as coach of the Dragons. He remained with Barcelona until the franchise folded after the '03 season, spent the next year with the Scottish Claymores, who then also folded, and moved on to Hamburg this season. Bicknell, 67, who coached '84 Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie at Boston College, entered the 2005 season with more wins (61) than any coach in league history, four World Bowl appearances and one championship (1997). "Cowboy Jack" might find it hard to locate his beloved country music in Hamburg, but he seems to have adjusted quite well to the rest of the NFL Europe experience. GERMANY 5, REST OF EUROPE 1 With the addition of the Hamburg Sea Devils this season and the demise of the Scottish Claymores (R.I.P. 2004), NFL Europe is left with five teams in Germany and one in the Netherlands. Because the cities are relatively close, it's easy for fans to support their teams on the road--and many do. The biggest rivalry is between the Rhein Fire and the Frankfurt Galaxy, the league's lone remaining original franchise. NATIONAL PRIDE Each NFL Europe team has on its roster eight "national" players, code for non-NFL types from countries other than the United States. Players from Japan, Russia, Mexico, Finland, Sweden, France, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom dot the lineups. None has much hope of sniffing the NFL, although the current best of the bunch already has. Hamburg receiver Scott McCready was on the Patriots' practice squad in 2001 and '02 and is the only Englishman who has won a Super Bowl ring. He led NFL Europe with 59 catches last year, becoming the first national player to top any major statistical category. McCready is at it again this season. Through six weeks, he leads the league with 37 receptions. GIVING IT A TRY Safety Eric Crouch, a former Heisman-winning quarterback from Nebraska, has had a couple fitful attempted starts to his pro career with the Rams (who drafted him in the third round in 2002) and the Packers. Once averse to playing anything other than quarterback, Crouch realizes his NFL hopes (now with the Chiefs) reside in the secondary. He is the starting free safety for Hamburg and seems devoted to the game. For now. ALUMNI GAME NFL Europe is, at its core, a developmental league. And at no time was its impact more evident than during Super Bowl 39, when 15 league alums took part, including kicker Adam Vinatieri of the Patriots and linebacker Nate Wayne of the Eagles. The 2004 postseason was a giant NFL Europe reunion, with 83 players on playoff rosters. And it's not as if the league produces only special teamers and backups. Twenty-seven NFL Europe quarterbacks have started in the NFL, including Arizona's Kurt Warner and Carolina's Jake Delhomme. TIME IS RUNNING OUT The league might provide the last hope for quarterback Akili Smith, who wants to regain the form with the Bucs that made him the third pick overall in the '99 NFL draft by the Bengals. Smith has been splitting time with another quarterback in Frankfurt. He looked solid through his first six games, but he threw only one TD pass and was intercepted twice. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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