Germany is shifting their attention to American football

Germany, a country known as one of the best soccer nations in the world and yet they’re widely perceived to offer some of the best American Football in the world behind the obvious nations of USA and Canada. Soccer dominates their sporting calendars but that doesn’t mean football doesn’t get a look in; the sport still has approaching 40,000 registered players and 500 club teams that attract around seven million followers. The majority of the players are amateurs who train once or twice a week and fund their own kit and equipment but playing for the love of the game can generate some incredible qualities – not least, giving the players drive and hunger to improve – but the German game is also attracting players from all over the world including the US.

The NFL is the top for all players and Germany already has some, if somewhat limited, representation in the form of Moritz Bohringer, a tight end who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Mark Nzeocha, who represents the San Francisco 49ers as a line-backer. That’s two players who have sole German nationality, there are two others with dual nationality and a further two who were born in Germany but who are considered American nationals. A limited number admittedly but it is a dream to be had.

Bohringer was the first European to be drafted without any college football behind him and look at Ernie Stautner who is the only German to be inducted into the American Football Hall of Fame. Don’t be surprised to see more talent make an appearance at the top level after starring in Germany in the years to come, after all, the more the game grows in Europe the bigger audience it will attract and the more they’ll practice, producing better quality players.

The German Football League, which is the top tier of American Football in the country, is contested between 16 teams with the final being the German Bowl. It’s a fixture that has historically been dominated by the New Yorker Lions who have racked up 17 appearances and 11 wins – 8 of which came in 11 years from 2005 – however, it’s back to back Champions – the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns – the team Bohringer called home before heading to the NFL, are causing a stir; some might even call it the passing of a torch.

The star of the Unicorns over recent seasons has been quarterback Marco Ehrenfried but after the team’s latest success he confirmed he’s stepping away from football – proof that the somewhat amateur nature of the sport does provide obstacles. It means there will be big shoes to fill at the Optima Sportpack, where the Unicorns play their home games, but what a springboard for the right candidate; step forward new signing Jadrian Clark, who has joined from the previously dominant New Yorker Lions.

Born in Lakeland, Florida in 1994, Clark played for Weber State Wildcats in the NCAA, where he was rated as one of the best in their history, but moved to Germany in 2017 to join another Wildcats, Kirchdorf, who he helped to promotion from tier two, throwing over 3200 yards and 46 touchdowns in a dozen games. After a solitary season with the Wildcats he moved to the Lions where he again threw comfortably over 3000 yards and landed 45 touchdowns.

Two successful seasons in and a third move was on the horizon, which brings us to the current day and his position with the Unicorns. He’s got a throwing arm that could flog a dead horse and if he can produce football like he has since arriving in Germany then he could get a call to head back home to the States and, if that happens, others could join him on the journey.

The mentality change from the clubs in America might not happen in time for the current crop. Still, even if not today or tomorrow, one day there will be an influx of players arriving in the NFL who have mastered their trade in the ever-growing German game, of that you should have no doubt.

AFI
American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!
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