Troy Rice hits milestone in Hungary; First American to Score 50 TDs

Troy Rice made history in the Hungarian Football league this year when he became the first import player to reach the 50 touchdown plateau. Playing for the reigning champion Miskolc Steelers, Rice has been a key reason for the Steeler’s championship run in 2016 and undefeated season so far in 2017.

A native of Warren, Ohio, Rice has not always been a wide receiver. When he started playing football at the age of six, he played quarterback. He was very talented in this position and fast as well. However, in middle school Rice had to make the transition to wide receiver. His coaches discovered how well he could catch the ball and how remarkably fast he was. Rice was close to the  making it in the NFL but when it didn’t work out, he chose to continue playing and came to Europe instead.

“In my sophomore year in college, I tore my right ACL. It took 8 to 10 months to recover. When I returned in 2011, I had the same injury in my left knee. Still, I had a shot to prove myself at the Cleveland Browns’ combine. I was not in my best shape, so I could not make it to the team. I had two shots. Either to hang up the cleats or try to play overseas. I heard about the Europlayers from a friend. I started reaching out to the teams and Joseph Szépe contacted me. He wanted to have me in Nyíregyháza. And that is how my trip to Europe started.”

Troy Rice scoring the game winning TD in 2016 Hungarian Bowl

Rice has played for three teams in Hungary: the Nyíregyháza Tigers, the Budapest Hurricanes and the Miskolc Steelers. Hungary was not the only country in Europe he has played in. The Steelers’ wide receiver has also played in the Ukraine, Finland, and Belarus. He also traveled to Australia where he became champion. Nevertheless, one thing always brought Rice back to Miskolc.

“I have experienced many different cultures and traveled many places. But the toughest championship league that I have personally played in, has been here in Hungary because the league and the football is growing stronger and stronger, day by day. The local Hungarian players are becoming more experienced. And with more imports being signed here every year, I alway have to prove to them and to the teams that signed them. So every week there is a challenge and they bring out the best in me. I love coming back to Miskolc. I like the city, but Vasyl Yordan is the main reason I am always back. I think he is one of the best quarterbacks in Hungary. It is an honor to play alongside him.”

Hit 50 TD mark in last regular season game of the year

The Steelers’ receiver, returner and safety scored his 49th and 50th touchdowns in the last regular season game of the year, a 40-34 victory over the Eger Heroes.  No import player has ever reached this number so far in Hungary.  And he only needed 28 games to do it. According to Rice, his most memorable TD was the game winning touchdown against the Budapest Cowbells in the Hungarian Bowl in 2016.

“It is a big achievement! It is something that I was chasing once a journalist told me how close I was earlier this season. Prior to that I had no clue that I was approaching 50! It is a number that not too many local players or imports reach in any league here overseas. So I am blessed to have reached this milestone! I am sure if I wasn’t playing both offense and defense then the touchdown numbers would definitely would be a lot higher. So next season we’ll see how much I’ll be able to increase that number! But I plan on hitting at least 75.”

The Miskolc Steelers can advance to the Hungarian Bowl again this weekend and become the first team to defend its title in the HFL when they take on the six-time champion Budapest Wolves in Felsőzsolca on June 24.

László Makranczi is a radio reporter, announcer and American Football journalist in Hungary. He lives in Debrecen and works for the Hungarian American Football Federation. Studied at the University of Debrecen, got a master’s degree in American