The New Frankfurt Galaxy: A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

[tps_title]A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes[/tps_title]

That hope quickly vanished six days later on June 29th when the NFL announced the closure of NFL Europe. Commissioner Roger Goodell shut down the developmental league on the “old continent” due to strategic reasons. The NFL chose to adjust its international strategy to focus more on meaningful regular season games outside the U.S. rather than investing millions of dollars into a farm system with only mild payoffs. I’m sure players like Kurt Warner, Adam Vinatieri or James Harrison might think otherwise. NFL Europe served its purpose to lay the groundwork for a European fan base of the All-American sport and the league moved onto the next chapter of globalizing the game, now known as the NFL International Series.

With their beloved NFL Europe teams forever gone, many American football fans in Europe – specifically in Germany – fell into a hole. Additionally, over 120 front office employees and many national players were suddenly unemployed.

The Darmstadt Diamonds, for instance, were playing Bundesliga football (GFL) only 35 km away from Frankfurt. However, NFL Europe had been light-years ahead of other European football leagues from a budget, competitive, and event organization standpoint, so the transition for fans from NFL Europe to the GFL was often difficult. Additionally, as a true sports fan you’re unlikely to switch teams easily, as was often the case for fans who grew up rooting for the “men in purple” (a common nickname for the Frankfurt Galaxy). For example, if the New York Giants were relocated to another city or completely vanished, a die-hard Giants fan wouldn’t suddenly change heart and become a Jets fan for the rest of his life.

The passion for the “Men in Purple” was so strong that a few staff members and fans of Frankfurt’s football team decided to keep the Galaxy spirit alive. Just three weeks after the closure of NFL Europe, they founded their own football club. The NFL still owned the naming rights for the Galaxy brand, so the team was named the “AFC Universe Frankfurt e.V.”, adopting the same colors as the Galaxy – purple and orange.

The new team had to start from rock bottom in the fifth German league (Landesliga Hessen, South-West Region) and worked its way up little by little. In the team’s first season in 2008, the Universe finished 2nd and were promoted along with the 1st place Gießen Golden Dragons to the fourth league (Oberliga Hessen/Rheinland-Pfalz). In 2009, the Universe went undefeated and moved another step on the ladder to the third division. They finished 5-5 in the German third league (Regionalliga Mitte) in 2010 and gained some experience for the upcoming season. In 2011, the Galaxy finished 2nd with only one loss and were promoted to the 2nd division of the German Football League (GFL2). For the past two years, the Universe were playing in the upper echelons of the GFL2’s South Division, finishing the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons at 9-4-1, 9-4-1, and 8-6 respectively.

Frankfurt Universe

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Björn Hesse is a contributor writer from Berlin, Germany. Having been a Frankfurt Galaxy fan since childhood, he played linebacker for the Leipzig Lions in Germany’s third league (Regionalliga-Ost) from 2003 to 2008. He worked as a PR intern for