Friday, June 29, 2007


As a football fan, today was a sad day for me. The NFL announced that NFL Europa, its developmental league ceased operations, playing its final down last weekend with a tilt between the Hamburg Sea Devils and the Frankfurt Galaxy for the NFLE title.

The two teams played in front of a crowd of 48,125.

In spite of the respectable crowd, the NFLE has hemorrhaged money throughout its existence dating back to when it was the World League of American Football (WLAF, or as many called it - the WeLaff). This year the NFL lost $30 million on the league.

I for one, a proud owner of a Barcelona Dragons sweater, will miss the league. I understand that in the end this was a business decision, but I can't but help saying that I am disappointed.

Sure, it wasn't the best football out there. But I thought it was fun to watch.

The league was the subject of a lot of ridicule, but it produced Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme, Adam Vinatieri, Joe Andruzzi, and Marco Rivera...just to name a few. It was a chance for the highly talented, but less polished players to excel, and it created an opportunity for international players such as British-born Sea Devils wide receiver Scott McCready who earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Patriots practice squad in 2001 and Osaka native and Frankfurt Galaxy linebacker Rikiya Ishida.

The league had grown enough in Germany that five of the six teams were based there - the Rhein Fire, Frankfurt Galaxy, Cologne Centurions, Hamburg Sea Devils, and Berlin Thunder.

Now the NFL, while dropping the league, is eying Germany for their international games in coming years. Germany could host games as soon as 2008, say league officials.

I find it ironic, however, that the NFL will hold its first regular season tilt abroad in London, the former home of the NFLE's London Monarchs, defunct now for close to a decade.

Although, with the advent of the Arena Football League, a league whose funding is not dependent on the NFL, it is hard to see the NFL restarting the league, no matter how much I would like to see the league restart. It does beg a question. Is the NFL eying Germany for expansion? There has been talk about Canada and Mexico. Would it be unrealistic to expect four new AFC and four new NFC teams between Europe, Canada, and Mexico over the course of the next decade? I wouldn't be surprised.

In the meantime, I'm going to turn my attention to the JAFA, American football in Japan. Maybe if enough people contact them, we can get the Football Network to cover it

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