Hamburg Sea Devils HC Ted Daisher follows former NFL mentee Patrick Esume to the ELF

Patrick Esume may be the unbiased founder and commissioner of the European League of Football, but at his core, he’s still a Hamburger.

So when his upstart football league revived the Hamburg Sea Devils, a team he won a World Bowl with in 2007, the former player for the city’s Silver Eagles, Blue Devils and Huskies knew exactly who he wanted to be coaching his hometown team.

Enter Ted Daisher, former NFL special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders.

When Esume got his chance to coach at the game’s highest level as part of the NFL’s Minority Coaching Fellowship in 2006, it was Daisher he learned under and a relationship was formed. Daisher brought his German mentee back yearly as an NFL training camp assistant and the two have stayed in contact over the years. Now it was Esume’s turn to offer an opportunity and Daisher jumped at the chance to head across the Atlantic.

“He is a very relentless type of worker and Patrick was all excited about [the launch of the ELF]. When he puts his mind to something, I’m pretty sure that it’s going to work out,” Daisher said of those early  conversations that connected him to the Hamburg franchise.

“I have known people who coached in NFL Europe and I do believe that there is a market there for football. I believe that there are good athletes that need to be developed. There are talented people, they just need some basic fundamentals and techniques. I’ve always wanted to spend some time in Europe and this was that opportunity and I’m excited for it.

Ted Daisher walking the field prior to Super Bowl XXXIX Photo courtesy Ted Daisher

As Sea Devils head coach, Daisher brings exactly what Esume has promised from his new venture: an NFL caliber of coaching and management not seen on the continent since the fall of NFL Europe. With six years as an NFL coordinator, a Super Bowl appearance and 42 years of top level coaching under his belt, Daisher brings a resume few among the European ranks could even dream about.

“I have been very fortunate to be on staffs in the NFL with John Harbaugh, Sean McDermott, Steve Spagnuolo, guys that have been very quality NFL coaches, and to learn from those people was very good for me personally,” Daisher said of his years in the world’s top league.

“It helped me football wise to better understand the game, to learn schemes and John Harbaugh is as good at dealing with people as anybody you’re ever going to find. Hopefully I can bring those experiences to the ELF and help our assistant coaches and help our players.”

Ted Daisher with the Philadelphia Eagles Photo courtesy Ted Daisher

Jumping from the NFL or NCAA to the European semi-pro ranks is hardly an easy transition. Daisher knows he’ll have to do more with less, drill down on the fundamentals and manage players who have full-time careers in other industries. It will be a brand new experience, but he plans to lean on the staff assembled by general manager Max Paatz to help guide him through.

“They know the players a lot better than I do. They’ve coached them in junior leagues and those things so they have a better familiarity with the players. They’ll be very valuable when I do get to Europe, to sit, meet, talk, and get a better feel for the talent level that we have or how they fit,” Daisher admitted.

“Our general manager has done a good job of identifying players and then letting me look at them to make the decision as to who we want. I know exactly what I’m looking for. We’re going to do a particular defensive scheme and special teams. I know what fits what I want to do and that’s the most important thing.”


Ted Daisher and All Pro kick returner Desean Jackson at 2010 Pro Bowl Photo courtesy Ted Daisher

There is one aspect of the team that Daisher may be a little bit more invested in selecting however. The coach earned his reputation as an NFL special teams’ guru thanks to the production of dynamic kick returners and he’s scanning for a prospect that can be added to that illustrious list thanks to an ability to make people miss in space.

“I was fortunate enough to coach as good a kick returner as there’s been in the NFL in the last 20 or 30 years in Josh Cribbs. When I was with Eagles, I had DeSean Jackson, who was a tremendous talent and led the NFL in punt returns,” Daisher explained. “That’s what my eye is on right now. I need to find somebody that can do the things we want to do from a return standpoint.”

The sort of explosive plays that returner provides will be a key part of the Sea Devils identity under Daisher. It’s been 17 years since the Michigan native had a chance to be a head coach and he knows exactly the type of culture he wants to bring to Germany.

“You’ve got to believe in yourself and the people around you and you’ve got to play as a team. That’s how we want to be and that’s how we want our guys to think. I don’t want to be overly complicated. I want us to play fast and physical and understand the things that we’re doing and to be competitive,” Daisher said of his organizational philosophy.

Ted Daisher with the Cleveland Browns Photo courtesy Ted Daisher

Still stateside while he lays that groundwork, the coach is excited to begin the process of installation with newly signed players over Zoom before heading overseas ahead of the league’s June launch. As the pieces begin to fall into place for the ELF, he gets even more impatient.

“This is a new adventure, a new league. There’s a lot of unknowns and the sooner we can identify the players, the athleticism and put all the pieces together, that will determine how much success we have early. I think that’s true for everybody in the league.” Daisher said.

“Hopefully we will be able to put a product on the field that will be exciting to watch and be successful and the people of Hamburg will be proud of what they’re seeing on the field.”

That’s exactly what his commissioner is hoping for.

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.