Are Germany’s New Yorker Lions Too Good?

In early October last year, Germany’s Braunschweig New Yorker Lions captured their fourth German American football title in a row  and their 11th overall.

Which raises the question. Is the Braunschweig team unstoppable?

Actually, head coach Troy Tomlin can calmly tackle that question. His Lions recently won their fourth German Bowl in a row, in Berlin against the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. This is the 11th time the club has won the German American Football championship trophy and along the way they have managed to win the Eurobowl title four times as well. Including this year.

But five days after the final game, the Lions chief is already sitting behind his desk in the small, windowless room in the clubhouse at the “Roten Wiese” training center of the Lions. There does not seem to be a time for rest.

“Football is twelve months a year,” says Tomlin in his American drawl.

Is that the secret behind recruiting? Hard work? Or is there more behind the phenomenon of the New Yorker Lions?

Is it money? What is it that makes the team better than everyone else when it counts?

Sweat instead of asterisks

troy-tomlin-rolf-daus

Lions-Headcoach Troy Tomlin buys “good people” as a player.

If you ask Tomlin the question of success, you get the feeling that he wants to move quickly to the next topic. To slough over speaking about the eleventh championship, or about his star quarterback.

It’s just not Tomlin’s way.

Sure, his Lions are good. But for the coach this is not a story of stars and asterisks. The main thing is that the whole team has gone through a lot of hard practice hours all through the season:

“The guys are always training, practicing diligently, watching films of the games – this is all hard work”

Tomlin also has to admit that athletes who do not want to do it all will not grow on the trees. And so the Lions regularly bring in good players from Europe and above all the USA. For NFL players, playing in Germany or Europe is not a consideration. So it is primarily young athletes who have just finished playing college football, players who are hungry but who for one reason or other did not make it to the NFL who come to Germany.

Success Factor One: Hard work.

Too confident to lose?

Other German football clubs do the same.

Coach Tomlin has a special strategy:

“We are looking for those who are good people.”

This means the player must have the “right heart” to play in a team and the right soul, so he won’t fail mentally with every setback.

The last factor, optimism or confidence, comes then from the coach.

Tomlin:

“Our body language is always positive. It never says we’ll lose.”

This is what his team did in the second half of the 2016 German-Bowl final game against the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, when the score was tied 14-14. The trick worked. Although Tomlin admits it doesn’t always work.

American football expert, NFL TV commentator for German television and ex-player Jan Stecker believes that there is something more than abatement behind it:

“The Lions are extremely well-balanced and offensively minded, both are simply strong, plus they have good teamwork and excellent coaching.”

But you must admit that the mental strength of the Lions is apparent: So Braunschweig are, with so many wins and championships, less nervous than other teams.

“And one thing is certain. This confidence definitely comes from the coach! “

Success Factor Two: Confidence.

“New Yorker does the Lions well”

American football expert Jan plug. © Jan Stecker Photographer: Jan Stecker

American football expert Jan Stecker is sure: The Lions are financially well equipped, but there is more to their success than that.

But talented coaches and players cost money. And not just those: Two top manicured fields in the south of the city of Braunschweig, professional practice dummies which the players can tackle, American assistant coaches, mascots and, of course, several cheerleading teams – this is not for nothing, even if the Lions have around 90 volunteers and the FFC Braunschweig soccer club as the base club of the Lions  who bear  many of the costs themselves.

What about the money?

The fact is that the “New Yorker” clothing company is the main sponsor of the Lions and according to their own figures they make a six figure investment in the team every year.

Stecker also says:

“Without such a sponsor, the success would not be possible. An American does not simply come to Germany without getting something for it.””New Yorker” is not just a patron who opens the wallet, but feels connected to the team at the latest since the change of name from “Braunschweig Lions” to “New Yorker Lions” in 2011.

This had an effect on the team’s success. Stecker:

“That’s the best combination of sponsor and team there is in the German Football. They complement each other very well.”

Success Factor Three: Combining a sponsor with money, passion and volunteers.

Popular, even when playing away. Football in Germany: fewer in the stadium, more on TV

Despite the successes of the “New York Lions” they have the same problem as all other German football clubs: fewer fans at games.

Even though the average crowds have remained constant for several years, an average of 4,000 fewer people come to Lions games than in the 1990s. In those days, crowds could at times number up around 20,000.

According to Lions spokesman Holger Fricke, the loss of NFL Europe and other factors was the reason: At that time, the NFL sometimes played pre-season games in Germany. It was hoped this would turn into the regular broadcast of NFL games on TV.

Stecker, who is himself a commentator on an NFL show, says:

“Our viewer tendency is going upwards, but not everything has been exhausted!”.

Stecker firmly believes that this will also have a positive effect on the number of spectators at German football stadiums.

And then there is the town of Braunschweig itself: Clearly smaller than Hanover or even Hamburg, the hometown of the Lions is considered in Germany to be a true stronghold of American football. Good youth programs, a wide fan base: Stecker:

“For many football players, it is above all an honor to play in Braunschweig.”

And the fans and followers of the Lions are especially loyal according to Fricke:

“Here, the whole family comes to games regularly – including grandchildren and grandpa”.

In fact, the team’s fans are so loyal that for away games the Lion’s entourage often outnumbers the hometown domestic fans. Fricke:

“This is really a phenomenon – but I know it no different.”

The head coach also believes that there is no better place for American players in Europe than Braunschweig:

“There is no substitute for a fighter.:

He should know: He was already successful in Braunschweig the early 90s, before 2001, and then again in 2013 and the head coach.

Success Factor Four: The fans.

“Everyone has a weak spot”

The New York Lions at a game. © New Yorker Lions Photographer: Fabian Uebe

Do the Lions compete other German teams? According to Troy Tomlin, the Lions also have a weak spot.

There are still two questions. Do the Lions have anything more to win after so many victories? Tomlin sees it quite pragmatically:

“The most important thing is always the next game, so that’s the point.”

Besides, every year you try to win everything. But are the Lions beatable? After all the successes, Tomlin does not believe in the infallibility of his team:

“Nobody is unbeatable, everyone has a weak spot.”

So what is the real secret behind the success of the Lions?

Tomlin:

“You’d like me to tell you that, but I’d rather keep it to myself!”

Translated from the original article from NDR.de in German by Tino Nowitski.

NDR .de
Skip to toolbar