The Marburg Mercenaries continue to add to their impressive arsenal with the signing of ex Seattle Seahawk linebacker Neal Howey.
The 29 year old Howey, (6’1″, 227 lb) a native of Monroe, Michigan, played for three years at Eastern Michigan University (NCAA Div. I, FBS) where he recorded 100 tackles in his senior year. After stints in the NFL (Seattle Seahawks) and tryouts with a number of CFL teams. He played for the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League under coaches Marty and Kurt Schottenheimer in 2011 and 2012.
Neal signed with the Bielefeld Bulldogs (GFL2) for the last five games of the season and recorded 57 tackles, 57 tackles, 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries.
American Football International asked Neal about playing in Germany, his decision to play for Marburg and his experiences in playing football in Europe.
American Football International: Why did you return to Germany to play and sign with the Marburg Mercenaries?
Neal Howey: I really enjoyed playing with the Bielefeld Bulldogs. Coach Dale Heffron recruited me to Marburg. I love his passion for winning. He has put something special together. I can already tell Sam Weiss is going to be a huge asset to our team as well. I can’t wait to work with the coaches, the other imports, who look very legit, and the rest of the team.
AFI: This will be your second season playing in Europe. How did you find out about playing in Europe in 2016?
Howey: Several teammates of mine from EMU played overseas before me. Jacob Wyatt, Chris May, Jermaine Jenkins (RIP), Ryan Downard, and Alex Belfy to name a few. When 2016 came along I decided I had to get some fresh film after injuries. I created a Europlayer’s profile and reached out to several teams telling my story. I talked to teams all over the world, I couldn’t believe there were so many. I was told the GFL was the top league but I was ready to play anywhere. I finally agreed to terms with the Bielefeld Bulldogs who picked me up right before the signing deadline for the second half of the season.
AFI: Did you get a chance to travel last year and if so where and what did you enjoy?
Howey: I was lucky enough to go Turin, Italy… Go Giaguari! Also Firenze [Florence]…where the Guelfi are located!
AFI: What are the differences playing in Europe than at home?
Howey: Nothing at all. I play for the love of the game.
AFI: How did you find playing as an import?
Howey: I think Imports should be impact players. But, American Football is a TEAM sport. And the team is only as strong as its weakest link.
AFI: What food or foods did you enjoy in Europe?
Howey: I love the food in Germany! I learned about it from my German family the Schulze’s. Käsespätzle was a special dish along with grilled meats. Schnitzel and Currywurst are very good too. The bread in Germany is excellent. I also enjoyed the food in Italy of course! And I cannot forget the Döner!
AFI: What are your expectations for 2017.
Howey: I don’t know what to expect really, going to play in Europe is a leap of faith. The goal is to shock the world…
AFI: What do you bring to the Mercenaries?
Howey: I bring experience, hard work, playmaking ability, and leadership on and off the field. I will care about my teammates and the organization.
Interested in playing American football in overseas?
Register on Europlayers.com.
Europlayers is the largest online database of American football players, teams and coaches. It is a connector, bringing together and introducing athletes to overseas teams. On the site you can begin researching teams around the world. Once you create a profile, you become searchable by hundreds of American football clubs around the world.