Helsinki Roosters Sign Germany’s Top QB Brandon Connette

The Helsinki Roosters have signed arguably the most sought-after quarterback in Europe, Brandon Connette, the leading passer in Germany in 2016 with the Dresden Monarchs.

Connette, 6’2″, 225 lb and a graduate of Duke University, enjoyed a banner year in Dresden throwing for 4,747 yards and 68 touchdowns with a passing efficiency rating of 194.7, all three marks tops in the league.

His favorite receivers were Micky Kyei and Sebastian Sagne – from Finland. 

American Football International caught up with Connette, a Corona, California native, to ask about the move and his experience playing football in Europe.

AFI: You were the leading quarterback in Germany this past season. Why the move to Finland?

Brandon Connette: The reason I even played in Germany last year was to experience the world. Prior to Germany i had never traveled outside of North America. I was actually unsure if i would even come back and play football at all. But I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to be able to explore a different part of the world.

After playing with three Finnish kids last year in Dresden, I would say it had an impact on my choice because they were such fun loving guys and genuinely nice, and I feel that it increased my interest in Finland.

AFI: Were many teams chasing you to sign?

Connette: There were a number of teams from many different countries that I had talked to since the season ended. It was very flattering and I really do appreciate all their time.

AFI: How did you discover American football in Europe in the first place?

Connette: I was actually working at ESPN radio in Northern California and had been out of playing football for a year and a half when i got a random Facebook message from Robert Cruse [Dresden’s offensive coordinator] . At first I was shocked and wondered why he wanted to sign a former quarterback who hadn’t put a helmet on in over a year. But I am extremely happy that he did and loved every second in Dresden.

AFI: What have you enjoyed the most about playing in Europe so far?

Connette: I have enjoyed being able to meet so many unique people from different countries and learning about their culture. I have also enjoyed being able to experience all the great history and landmarks Europe has to offer.

AFI: What was your favorite food in Germany?

Connette: Does beer count as a food? Lol I have always loved bratwurst, and Dresden did not disappoint in that category.

AFI: How much of an influence have the three Finnish players been?

Connette: They have been a huge influence. Especially Micky [Micky Kyei] and Sebas [Sebastian Sagne]. A lot of people look at my stats from last year and say “what a great quarterback”, but those two, along with Henny [Hendrik Hinrichs] and Mike [Mike Schallo], were the reason all those stats were possible. They are all incredibly gifted athletes and definitely made my job easier on the field. And off the field were some of my closest friends that I still keep in touch with on pretty much a daily basis.

I think that if more teams stopped and watched our game film from last year they would see why. All four of our receivers deserve to be getting calls from teams all across Europe. They are game changing players and I know they will all have great seasons next year!

AFI: How many more years do you foresee yourself playing in Europe or maybe somewhere else in the world?

Connette: That’s an interesting question because I never thought i would play again after college. And then I didn’t think I would again next year either. And yet here I am… so I don’t really have a timeline for how long i am going to play. This could be the last year, or maybe there are more left in me.

And I would like to say thank you to Monarchs Nation. I am extremely grateful to have played at such a top notch organization last year. They are the greatest fans and although I will miss Dresden, I am excited for a new experience. I will definitely be down for a game when the Roosters have a bye week!

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.