Dacia Vienna Vikings star Andrew Spencer back on the field after searching for love on The Bachelorette

Dating the football star is a fantasy so ubiquitous in American pop culture that it might as well come with a slice of apple pie and a Ford truck.

It should come as no surprise then that The Bachelorette, ABC’s uber-successful reality dating show now entering its 17th season, often turns to the pro and college football ranks to find charismatic suitors for the show’s titular female. Everyone from fringe NFL talents to Aaron Rodger’s younger brother has attempted to find love in recent years, but this season they’ve gone a little further afield.

When the 30 contestants that will vie for Bachelorette Katie Thurston’s heart were unveiled on Monday, one potential Romeo was Andrew Spencer, who raised some eyebrows for his Austrian address and unorthodox fashion choice.

“I was trying to bring out my European vibes a little bit and show the world, but I guess they weren’t feeling that one,” Spencer grins, laughing at the white turtleneck that drew some attention on social media.

“We’ll see as the show goes on, I’ll throw a couple more turtlenecks on.”

Andrew Spencer rushed for 78 yards a 1 TD against Prague Black Panthers in return to Dacia Vienna Vikings Photo: Andreas Bischof

While the former Division II All-American defensive back for tiny Winona State is just now being properly introduced to American audiences, Spencer is no stranger to those who follow football overseas. For the past three seasons, the Lake Villa, Illinois native has dazzled as member of the Dacia Vienna Vikings, one of Europe’s premier American football teams.

For many of the millions of viewers who will tune in for the show’s premiere on June 7th, the existence of professional football in Austria will come as a surprise. It garnered a similar reaction from the other contestants and Spencer enjoyed being able to bring something entirely unique to the table.

“Everyone thought it was really cool. Obviously it’s not something normal and it’s just a different experience that you have than other people,” he says, now returned to Vienna after completing his time on the show.

“It was pretty cool to be able to share that and shed light on Vienna, on Austria and playing football for the Viking. It was pretty informative for a lot of those guys and Katie as well.”

Spencer first joined the Vikings organization mid-way through the 2019 season, starring at both defensive back and running back as his team fell in the Austrian Bowl to the rival Swarco Raiders. In 2020, he helped Vienna sweep a best-of-five Austrian title series against the Graz Giants, the only other team playing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bachelorette on ABC TV features Katie Thurston Photo: ABC Television

This season, 2021, was set to be his first full season for the team until The Bachelorette came calling. Nominated for the show by his cousin Clay Harbor, an eight-year NFL veteran who appeared on the the 14th season, Spencer never expected to be selected from the pool of 6,000 applicants. When he got the call, it meant some tough conversations but the Vikings backed him the whole way.

“Me leaving obviously left a big hole, especially with the timing being right before our first couple of games, but it was something I wanted to do and they were behind me as well. Coach Calaycay and all the guys, they supported everything,” Spencer acknowledges.

“I’ve built really good relationships with these guys and I’m sure a couple of these guys on the team will probably be in my wedding one day. I definitely believe that they wanted me to come back regardless and it just so happens that we were able to make it happen, which I’m super grateful for.”

Spencer had to miss the first three games of the Austrian season for filming, but found the environment in the Bachelorette mansion paralleled a football locker room in many ways.

“It’s like hanging out with a bunch of teammates,” he explains. “Once you meet the guys and the producers, it’s like producers are the coaches and the guys that you meet once you get there are just new guys to the team and everyone’s competing for a spot.”

Photo: Hannes Jirgal

While his introductory turtleneck earned him some jabs online, Spencer is bound to be a favorite among Bachelorette fans. A charismatic man of the world with a beaming smile and a relationship with his 96-year-old grandmother that will make viewers swoon, the Vikings star already has many falling in love.

Whether his charms worked on Katie remains a closely guarded secret for now and Spencer is simply happy to be back on the field in Vienna after a unique and rewarding search for love.

“Football is my first love, it’s something that’s always going to have a special place in my heart,” he says. “Being able to come back here and breathe football air, it’s been like coming back home, almost relaxing. It’s my safe haven, my zen.”

Since filming wrapped, Spencer has played two games for the Vikings, contributing primarily as a running back and returner. He’s carried 12 times for 111 yards and three touchdowns and while playing in the offensive backfield will only help his reputation with the ladies, Spencer doesn’t care where the team employs his Swiss army knife skill-set.

“It doesn’t matter where they put me, as long as I’m playing, I think I’ll excel,” he insists. “I’m trying to win a championship so I’m not really greedy in that aspect of where I’ll be playing.”

So will Katie Thurston be tuning in to AFI.tv to watch him achieve that goal? Rarely shy, Spencer blushes when asked about the prospect.

“I cannot confirm or deny,” he laughs sheepishly.

Fans of The Bachelorette and European football will be glued to their televisions to find out.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.