The World League of American Football (shortened to WLAF or World League), later renamed the NFL Europe League (NFL Europe for short) and then NFL Europa, was a professional American football league which operated between 1991 and 2007. It was backed by the National Football League (NFL), the largest league in the United States. Each season culminated with the World Bowl.
The World League of American Football was founded in 1989 to serve as a type of spring league. Seven of the ten teams were based in North America, and the other three in Europe. This format lasted for two seasons, with no league in 1993–94.
The WLAF returned in 1995 with six teams, all in Europe, and in 1998 the league was rebranded as the NFL Europe League or NFL Europe, until 2006. For the league's last season, 2007, it officially changed its name to NFL Europa.
The league's squads were predominantly assigned by NFL teams, who wanted these younger, developmental players to get additional game experience and coaching. The NFL assumed the expenses of players and coaches living in Europe. The European six-team format was maintained for 12 seasons, from 1995 to 2008, but by 2008 five teams were based in Germany. Making a reported $30 million loss per season, and with teams such as the inaugural league champion London Monarchs having gone defunct, on 29 June 2008, the NFL announced the end of NFL Europa.
|World League of American Football |
|Owner(s)||National Football League|
|No. of teams||10 (1991–1992) |
|Countries||Canada (1991–1992) |
United Kingdom (1991–2004)
United States (1991–1992)
|Hamburg Sea Devils|
|Most titles||Frankfurt Galaxy, 4|
A previous proposed league in the 1970s, the Intercontinental Football League, had contained many elements of the eventual all-European league. West German entrepreneur Adalbert Wetzel and sports coach Bob Kap secured the release of several NFL players to the IFL for a planned 1975 season. The IFL would have involved teams in Barcelona, Rome, West Berlin, Munich, Vienna and Istanbul, but was cancelled due to economic and political problems.
The World League of American Football was formed in 1989, by a unanimous vote of NFL owners, as a spring developmental league, the "brainchild" of commissioner Paul Tagliabue. This came after the NFL had played popular American Bowls in London's Wembley Stadium and elsewhere since 1986. Of the 28 NFL teams, 26 paid $50,000 each in start-up costs for the WLAF. Team payrolls and budgets were controlled by the WLAF office but not all teams were owned by the league; in May 1992 it owned five (including Barcelona, London and Frankfurt) and part-owned three.
The WLAF was set up as a professional American football league for North America and Europe: six teams from the United States, three European teams, and one Canadian team. In 1991 parties in Moscow and Japan expressed an interest in additional franchises.
Teams were aligned in three divisions:
The WLAF played two seasons in the spring of 1991 and 1992, with 10 teams playing a 10-game regular season with the World Bowl championship game. Rules unique to WLAF included assigning increasing point value to field goals based on distance, and a requirement that at least one player of non-US nationality participate in at least every other series of downs.
New ideas were successfully tested, like using the two-point conversion rule also on the professional field (which was already in use in the Canadian Football League) before adopting it in the NFL in 1994. Other minor tweaks in gameplay, such as a shorter kickoff tee, were also first used in the WLAF. Several technical innovations, such as helmet mounted cameras and one-way radios, enabling coaches to tell plays directly to quarterbacks, were also developed.
The average game attendance for the first season was 25,361, and 24,216 in the second season. The original WLAF was barely noticed in the United States, having a "minor-league or developmental image" and low TV ratings. In the non-U.S. cities of London, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Montreal, crowds surpassed early expectations. The Monarchs' home attendance led the league, and the 1991 World Bowl played at Wembley Stadium was attended by 61,108.
In May 1991, the Los Angeles Times's Chris Dufresne said American fans were less likely than Europeans to "shell out hard-earned dollars for games featuring roster-cut leftovers" and suggested there was a post-USFL backlash in Orlando, Birmingham, and San Antonio. The WLAF lost $7 million in 1991.
The playoff format consisted of four teams: the three divisional champions, plus a wild card with the best overall non-division winning record. The two teams emerging from the WLAF semi-final playoffs met at the end of the season in the World Bowl. The first two World Bowl locations were predetermined before the season. The average WLAF salary for 10 games plus playoffs was $40,000, but some of the top players made close to $100,000.
Operations of the WLAF were suspended after the 1992 season as the league lost money and the involved NFL owners were not willing to invest more. However, the NFL still needed another pro football league to help their cause in the antitrust and free agency lawsuit with the National Football League Players' Association.
The three Europe-based teams dominated in 1991, with a combined 24–6 record, while no North American team managed better than 5–5. The London Monarchs won the World Bowl. The Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks lost all 10 games and ultimately their franchise, which was moved to Ohio for 1992.
|Semifinals||World Bowl '91|
|2||New York/New Jersey Knights||26|
In 1992, fortunes changed and none of the European teams had winning seasons. Despite this, the European fans remained loyal, but the NFL owners suspended the WLAF after the season. Paul Tagliabue mentioned plans to bring it back with only European teams, possibly in 1994. British sports writer Matt Tench cited "an ambivalence on the part of the NFL owners: they wanted a spring league but did not want to create a rival to the NFL. In the end they did not create enough of a rival."
The Sacramento and San Antonio franchises left the WLAF, with their ownership groups attempting to secure franchises in the Canadian Football League in preparation for their U.S. expansion in 1993. The Sacramento Gold Miners would play in the CFL for three years, becoming the first American franchise in the league (and beginning a three-season sojurn in the U.S. for the CFL).
|Semifinals||World Bowl '92|
After 1992, the World League was suspended for two years. The spring developmental league had enough NFL support to continue, but without any North American teams. The new teams were announced in July 1994, and the third WLAF season began in April 1995. The 1995 WLAF was based entirely in Europe, and was reduced to six teams. The three existing European teams (London, Barcelona and Frankfurt) were joined by three new teams in Amsterdam (the Admirals), Düsseldorf (Rhein Fire) and Edinburgh (Scottish Claymores).
In the wake of Fox's new contract to broadcast NFL games, Fox became a co-owner of the WLAF and a major financial contributor, in return for broadcasting rights. The relaunched league was sponsored by Reebok, which also manufactured team uniforms and apparel.
All six teams played in a single division. By playing each other twice (home and away), the WLAF's regular season lasted for 10 games, as it had in 1991–92. Under the new format, the World Bowl championship game was between the first-half league leader and end-of-season league leader (or runner-up, if the first-half champion also had the best overall record). The first-half champion also hosted the World Bowl. This selection process was abandoned after the 1997 World Bowl.
In 1995, league attendances averaged less than 15,000.
The London Monarchs left Wembley for reasons of cost, size and availability, and the team's home games were played at Tottenham Hotspur F.C.'s White Hart Lane in the 1995 and 1996 seasons. White Hart Lane's field was only 93 yards long – nowhere near enough to hold a full 120-yard field and endzones – so the WLAF had to grant an exemption from the usual rules.
More than 100 players with World League experience played in the American NFL in 1996. Meanwhile, the WLAF signed some players who had been more famous in other leagues and sports – in 1996 the London Monarchs signed former NFL star William Perry and the Scottish Claymores' kicker was Scotland's national rugby union team captain, Gavin Hastings.
By the end of the 1997 season, there were growing concerns that WLAF markets, except Germany, were not living up to their potential. Average attendance for the Monarchs was around 10,000 in 1995–97. Radical changes were made to the two British teams and venues for the upcoming 1998 season. Then, at a press conference in San Diego during Super Bowl XXXII weekend, the league announced it too would be changing: the league would be rebranded as NFL Europe.
Starting in 1998, the league was known as NFL Europe. Qualification for the World Bowl championship game also changed. The two teams with the best overall record after 10 games competed in the World Bowl, to be hosted at a pre-determined site. A team could no longer secure a World Bowl berth midway through the season. The change was largely attributed to the play of the eventual 1997 World Bowl champions, the Barcelona Dragons, who secured a World Bowl berth with a 4–1 first-half record and proceeded to rest players and play what some argued was low-intensity football in the second half, finishing with just a 5–5 record and third place overall in the league's standings.
The Scottish Claymores began to divide their schedule between Edinburgh and Glasgow's Hampden Park, having previously only played at Murrayfield. The London Monarchs became the England Monarchs, playing home games in London, Birmingham and Bristol, and switching their colors from blue, gold and red to red, white and black.
In the late 1990s two future NFL star quarterbacks were active in the European league. Kurt Warner played for the Amsterdam Admirals in 1998, with Jake Delhomme as his backup quarterback. Delhomme played at the Frankfurt Galaxy the following season in an unorthodox two-quarterback system with Pat Barnes, with the Galaxy winning the 1999 World Bowl.
The NFL Europe era was beset by instability, but NFL Europe president Oliver Luck was "well past being concerned with the short term" and claimed attendances were less vital to revenues than before 1998. However, with attendances slumping to an average of 5,944 the England Monarchs were shut down after the 1998 season, being replaced by the Berlin Thunder. In 2002, the Barcelona Dragons became an official section of FC Barcelona, adopting the name FC Barcelona Dragons. However, after only one year Barcelona dropped its sponsorship. With the team struggling financially and generating little fan support, the NFL was not interested in keeping the franchise alive, and replaced it with the Cologne Centurions for the 2004 season.
The Scottish Claymores, one of the three teams added to the league in 1995, were also discontinued in 2004, and replaced by the Hamburg Sea Devils, being established for the 2005 season. With this change, five of the six teams in the league's final incarnation were from Germany, with one from the Netherlands, leading some of the league's detractors to refer to it as 'NFL Deutschland' or 'NFL Germany'; even speculating that the Admirals were only still in Amsterdam because they were the champions of World Bowl XIII. German teams, unsurprisingly, won all 7 World Bowl Championships between 1998 and 2004.
In 2005 the total attendance at the thirty games was 568,935, and the average attendance of 18,965 was the highest since 1992. On the other hand, TV contracts were canceled as a result of teams moving out of the countries they were based upon, such as the NFLEL deal with satellite TV platform Digital+ in Spain after the demise of the Barcelona Dragons. Player salaries had gone down since the start of the WLAF, when the average was $40,000. By 2005, the salary in NFL Europe was $18,500 for the quarterback, $13,500 for every other position.
In 2006, the league's schedule opened and closed one month earlier than normal because of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which was played at four of the five German stadiums that hosted NFL Europa teams. Only the LTU Arena in Düsseldorf was not chosen to host World Cup matches, and that stadium hosted the World Bowl that year.
On 11 September 2006, NFL Europe officially re-branded itself as NFL Europa to reflect the name of Europe in most European languages, including Dutch and German. "NFL Europe" continued to be used informally in the United States, including for the league's English-language website, nfleurope.com.
On 29 June 2007, NFL officials announced that the NFL Europa league would be disbanded effective immediately. The announcement came less than a week after the Hamburg Sea Devils beat the Frankfurt Galaxy 37–28 in World Bowl XV in Frankfurt in front of a crowd of 48,125.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell thanked the fans for their support but said it was time to develop a new international strategy, terming the move to fold NFL Europa the "best business decision". The league reportedly was losing about $30 million a season.
ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli wrote after the league's disbandment in 2007, "Recently, the European league became far less a laboratory for player development and more an exercise in amassing exemptions for NFL summer training camps. [...] there weren't many [NFL] team officials who adhered to the original intent anymore."
Pasquarelli also named J. T. O'Sullivan as the best 2007 NFL Europa player, at a time when O'Sullivan was no better than third-choice quarterback at the Chicago Bears. According to Pasquarelli, NFL Europe and NFL Europa "simply stopped producing players with even scant name recognition", and most coaches would prefer to develop their players themselves.
Various reasons were put forward for NFL Europe’s collapse and the game’s limited appeal outside North America, with John Williams, director of the Center for the Sociology of Sport at the University of Leicester, citing its “lack of flow”, with play, broken up for “tactical talks and time outs”, being deemed as “too contrived” among fans of more free flowing sports.
The NFL announced plans for a "stronger international focus on regular-season games outside the United States". The NFL International Series began in October 2007 at Wembley, London, and continues today. The Bills Toronto Series started in 2008, but ended in 2013. However, no mainland European country has hosted any NFL games for 20 years, since Germany hosted exhibition games from 1991 to 1994.
|North American teams||Active|
|New York/New Jersey Knights||1991–92|
|San Antonio Riders||1991–92|
|Hamburg Sea Devils||2005–2007|
All competing teams, 1991–92:
The league existed in two forms – the 10-team transatlantic league in 1991 and 1992, then the six-team format in Europe only from 1995 to 2007.
The three European teams from 1991 to 1992, Frankfurt, Barcelona and London, were the only original teams to continue playing when the league was resurrected in 1995. By 2007, only the Frankfurt Galaxy remained of the original WLAF teams.
In this era, NFL overtime was a single quarter of sudden death, with the first team to score being the winner. A regular-season game would end in a tie if no team scored in 15 minutes. (Postseason games lasted indefinitely until one team scored.)
In WLAF/NFL Europe, however, overtime period lasted for only 10 minutes, with a rule that each team must have the opportunity of possession at least once. Therefore, if the first team to possess the ball scored, the other would get a chance to either equalize or win the game. The winner was the team with the highest score after both teams had had possession. Sudden death applied if the score was even after each team had had one possession. If still tied after 10 minutes, the game ended as a tie. Only two games ever remained tied after overtime in WLAF/NFL Europe history: London Monarchs vs. Birmingham Fire in 1992, and Berlin Thunder at Hamburg Sea Devils in 2006. The score of both games was 17–17.
Since 2010, the NFL has applied a similar set of overtime rules and several further tweaks were made in 2012. Starting with the 2017 season, the 15-minute overtime period was shortened to 10 minutes after gaining approval from the NFL team owners.
With association football (or soccer) being the traditionally popular sport in Europe and American football being a relative newcomer, the rules were changed slightly to encourage a greater element of kicking which was intended to make the game more enjoyable for soccer and rugby fans. The league did this by awarding four points to field goals of more than 50 yards, as opposed to three points in the NFL. This had the interesting side-effect that a touchdown and point-after lead (seven points) could be equaled by one regular field goal (three points) along with a long field goal (four points).
In the 1995 season, in every team's home games, at least seven "local" players had to be playing or on the bench (three locals in away games). In the years before 2006, each team had to field at least one player of non-American extraction, called a "national" player, on every down of every other series. In 2006 the rule was changed to every series. In addition to European players a number of Mexican and Japanese players played as national players. Up until the 2004 season, kicked conversion attempts and short field goals were attempted by national players. Since there are few European players who have had the chance to compete at a level comparable to U.S. college football and the NFL, many, if not most, of the European players ended up as kickers.
Notable national players included Scott McCready, an English wide receiver who played some preseason games for the New England Patriots; the Claymores' wide receiver Scott Couper, who played a pre-season game for the Chicago Bears; Constantin Ritzmann, a German defensive end who had played for the University of Tennessee; and Rob Hart, an English rugby player who became a placekicker and kicked barefoot. Lavar Ball who played for the London Monarchs who is now the owner and CEO of Big Baller Brand and the father of Lonzo Ball, LiAngelo Ball, and LaMelo Ball.
Running back Victor Ebubedike played for the Monarchs from 1991 to 1998, becoming the first Briton to score in the World League in 1991. The Monarchs' first kicker was former Norwich City centre-half Phil Alexander. Ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker Clive Allen also kicked for the Monarchs, while fellow footballers Jesús Angoy, Manfred Burgsmüller and Silvio Diliberto kicked for the Barcelona Dragons, Rhein Fire and Amsterdam Admirals respectively.
The 1995 WLAF relaunch featured uniforms with a significantly different look from what is traditionally associated with American football. Instead of the standard large numbers centered on the front of the jersey, the team logos took precedence, with a smaller number over the right collarbone area. The Monarchs reverted to the traditional look in 1997 and the rest of the league followed a year later. The 1998 uniform designs were "thought to appeal to european tastes".
USA Network carried most of the WLAF games on Saturday and Monday nights in the 1991 season and again on Saturday nights for the 1992 season. Diana Nyad served as the network's host for pregame and halftime. The network premiered the helmet cam to TV audiences.
The reported cost of the contracts varied – the L.A. Times said that ABC had paid $28m for two years, and USA $25m. For the 1992 season the WLAF charged each network less for broadcasting rights; The New York Times reported that ABC's annual fee went down from $12m to $3m, and USA's from $14m to $10m. The ABC coverage's average ratings fell from 1991 to 1992, from around 2.1 to 1.7, and USA's from 1.2 to 1.1. Both networks asked the WLAF to expand into two major U.S. markets for 1993.
1991 season coverage in Europe was mostly on satellite. Eurosport showed games on delay and Super Channel showed the 1991 World Bowl. Channel 4 showed half-hour highlights of Monarchs games on Saturday mornings. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Larry Eichel wrote, "The only way a Monarchs fan could watch the team's first-round playoff game from the Meadowlands was to go to Wembley to see it on closed circuit."
Coverage in Canada was led by RDS, a French-language broadcaster, which focused on Montreal Machine games.
Although the league no longer had any U.S. teams, American television coverage continued until the end. Fox Sports had become a co-owner of the league, and from 1995 to 1998 the primary TV carrier was FX, which carried two games a week, on Saturday and Sunday. From 1995 to 2005, Fox showed the World Bowl and two or three regular season games annually. From 1999 to 2004, Fox Sports Net showed a "game of the week" on Saturday, with DirecTV viewers receiving additional live games on channels that normally carried NFL Sunday Ticket. In 2005, NFL Network began showing all regular season games, either live or on tape delay, and this continued until the league folded. NFL Network also showed the 2006 and 2007 title games.
The revived WLAF's UK coverage was mainly on Sky Sports, with coverage also on Channel 4, STV, and Carlton. Eight European continental broadcasters also showed coverage, including Germany's Vox and DSF.
EuroPass, an offshoot of FieldPass, broadcast Internet video of games, free of charge, in the league's later years.
North America (1991–1992)
|Team||Stadium, city||Years used||Capacity|
|Birmingham Fire||Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama||1991–1992||83,091|
|Montreal Machine||Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Quebec||1991–1992||65,255|
|New York/New Jersey Knights||Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey||1991–1992||76,891|
|Ohio Glory||Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio||1992||91,470|
|Orlando Thunder||Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida||1991–1992||65,438|
|Raleigh–Durham Skyhawks||Carter–Finley Stadium, Raleigh, North Carolina||1991||47,000|
|Sacramento Surge||Charles C. Hughes Stadium, Sacramento, California||1991||20,311|
|Hornet Stadium, Sacramento||1992||26,000|
|San Antonio Riders||Alamo Stadium, San Antonio, Texas||1991||23,000|
|Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, Texas||1992||16,000 approx.|
Europe (1991–1992, 1995–2007)
|Team||Stadium, city||Years used||Capacity|
|Amsterdam Admirals||Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam, Netherlands||1995–1996
2000 (one game)
2007 (one game)
|De Meer Stadion, Amsterdam||1995 (two games)||19,000|
|Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam||1997–2007||51,859|
|Barcelona Dragons||Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Barcelona, Spain||1991–1992, 1995–2002||56,000|
|Mini Estadi, Barcelona||2002 (one game)
|Berlin Thunder||F. L. Jahn Sportpark, Berlin, Germany||1999–2002
2006 (one game)
|Cologne Centurions||RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne, Germany||2004–2007||50,374|
|Frankfurt Galaxy||Waldstadion/Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt, Germany||1991–1992, 1995–2007||52,000|
|Hamburg Sea Devils||AOL Arena, Hamburg, Germany||2005–2007||55,989|
|London/England Monarchs||Wembley Stadium, London, England||1991–1992||80,000|
|White Hart Lane, London||1995–1996||36,240|
|Stamford Bridge, London||1996 (one game)
|Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, London||1998||15,500|
|Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, England||1998 (one game)||7,600|
|Ashton Gate, Bristol, England||1998 (one game)||21,500|
|Rhein Fire||Rheinstadion, Düsseldorf, Germany||1995–2002||55,900|
|Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen, Germany||2003–2004||61,524|
|LTU Arena, Düsseldorf||2005–2007||51,500|
|Scottish Claymores||Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland||1995–1998
2002 (one game)
|Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland||1998 (one game)
|Team||Year 2005||Year 2006||Year 2007|
|Hamburg Sea Devils|
The World League of American Football used similar cameras as part of its game broadcasts in the 1990s
The Amsterdam Admirals were a professional American football team in NFL Europe who played in Amsterdam, Netherlands.Barcelona Dragons
The Barcelona Dragons were a team originally in the World League of American Football and later in the resurrected NFL Europe. Their home field in Barcelona was the Estadi Olímpic de Montjuic, the 1992 Olympic Stadium, and later the Mini Estadi. The Dragons were successful on the field, making it to 4 World Bowls (1991, 1997, 1999, 2001) and winning World Bowl V in 1997. The team was made part of the FC Barcelona organization in 2002 as the FC Barcelona Dragons. Despite these efforts, the franchise's fan support decreased and the team began to struggle financially. After the 2003 season, the Dragons were discontinued and they were replaced in the league by the Cologne Centurions.
For the entire duration of the Dragons' history they had only one head coach, "Cowboy" Jack Bicknell. His nickname was roughly translated by his adoptive city to El Caballero (meaning, literally, "The Knight" or "The Gentleman" in Spanish). From 1991–2002, Seymour "Red" Kelin was responsible for Defensive Coordinating duties. Bicknell and Kelin had been coaching together since their days at Boston College, where they helped lead the Eagles to a Cotton Bowl Classic victory in 1984.Berlin Thunder
The Berlin Thunder were a professional American football team in NFL Europe.Brad Nessler
Bradley "Brad" Nessler (born June 3, 1956) is an American sportscaster, who currently calls college football and college basketball games for CBS Sports.Claude Humphrey
Claude B. Humphrey (born June 29, 1944) is a former American football defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. Humphrey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.Cologne Centurions
The Cologne Centurions were an American football team that played in NFL Europe. The Centurions began competing in the league in the 2004 season, having replaced the defunct Barcelona Dragons. They played their home games at RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne.
The Centurions' first-ever game was against local rival Rhein Fire. Cologne lost 25-26. The Centurions' inaugural season finished with a 4-6 record.
On 21 February 2006, the Centurions named David Duggan as their new head coach. He replaced Darryl Sims, who was on the verge of his first season in the position but instead was pursuing an opportunity in the NFL. Peter Vaas, a two-time World Bowl-winning coach with the Berlin Thunder, had occupied the job in the team's first two seasons. The Centurions were the only NFL Europe team that never won a World Bowl.Curt Menefee
Curt Menefee (born July 22, 1965) is an American sportscaster who is currently the host of the Fox network's NFL show Fox NFL Sunday. His co-hosts are Jimmy Johnson, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, and Michael Strahan.Dave Pasch
Dave Pasch (born August 11, 1972) is an ESPN announcer, covering the NBA, college football, and college basketball. He is also the radio play-by-play voice of the Arizona Cardinals.Frankfurt Galaxy
The Frankfurt Galaxy was a professional American football team that originally played in the World League of American Football and later in the resurrected NFL Europe. The team was based in Frankfurt, Germany and played in the Commerzbank-Arena, formerly called Waldstadion. The Galaxy was the only team in the league to have remained in operation and in the same city throughout the league's existence.
In September 2014 it was announced that the Frankfurt Football Betriebs GmbH had purchased the rights for the Frankfurt Galaxy from the NFL. It plans to rename the Frankfurt Universe, playing in the German Football League 2 into Frankfurt Galaxy and to take the former's spot in the league in 2015. An attempt to do the same in 2007 had failed because the naming rights then lay with the NFL.Hamburg Sea Devils
The Hamburg Sea Devils were an American football team that played in NFL Europa from 2005 to 2007. They played their home games at Hamburg's Volksparkstadion (also home to the German football team Hamburger SV). They played their first game on 2 April 2005 losing 24–23 to the Cologne Centurions (who were the newest NFL Europe franchise before the Sea Devils). The Sea Devils' first win came in Week 3 of the 2005 season, with a 31–24 home victory over the then-struggling Rhein Fire.
Their first head coach was Jack Bicknell, previously head coach of the defunct Barcelona Dragons and Scottish Claymores. The Sea Devils had directly replaced the Claymores after the 2004 season.
On 1 April 2006, the Sea Devils recorded their first tie in franchise history. At home, they scored 17 points in the second quarter, against the Berlin Thunder. They had blown their 17-point lead before regulation ended. When no one scored in overtime, the game ended in a draw. This was only the second tie in the NFL Europa history. The previous tie came in the 1992 season between the Rhein Fire and the London Monarchs. The final score for that game was also 17–17.
On 29 March 2007, Bicknell resigned, citing health issues as the reason. He was replaced by offensive coordinator Vince Martino.
On 23 June 2007, the Sea Devils won their first World Bowl championship with a 37–28 victory over the defending champion Frankfurt Galaxy. It was also their last, as NFL Europa disbanded almost immediately following the game. As a result, the Sea Devils are the last team to win a WLAF/NFL Europe/NFL Europa game ever.
The Sea Devils were brought to American media attention again on 14 July 2007, when 2006 team member Mike Jemison was arrested in Pennsylvania for robbery. Previously, Thomas Herrion, an offensive tackle allocated to the team by the San Francisco 49ers, died after a preseason game against the Denver Broncos in August 2005. Current Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes also played for the Sea Devils. Coach and former cornerback Nate Jacks from Atlanta, Georgia also played for the Sea Devils.Howie Long
Howard Matthew Moses Long (born January 6, 1960) is an American former National Football League (NFL) defensive end, actor and current sports analyst. He played in the NFL for 13 seasons and spent his entire career with the Raiders franchise, in Oakland during his rookie campaign in 1981 and in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1993. During his tenure as a player, Long was named to eight Pro Bowls and helped the Los Angeles Raiders win a championship in Super Bowl XVIII in 1984. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
After retiring, Long pursued a career in acting and broadcasting. He currently serves as a studio analyst for Fox Sports' NFL coverage.Kevin Harlan
Kevin Harlan (born June 21, 1960 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an American television and radio sports announcer. The son of former Green Bay Packers executive Bob Harlan, he broadcasts NFL and college basketball games on CBS and is a play-by-play announcer for the NBA on TNT. Until 2008, Harlan was the voice of Westwood One Radio's Final Four coverage. In 2010, he began serving as Westwood One's lead announcer for Monday Night Football, calling his first Super Bowl in Super Bowl XLV. He has broadcast 9 consecutive Super Bowls for Westwood One, Super Bowls 45-53.Nine is the second most in radio network history (Jack Buck, 17). He also broadcast the CBS HD feed of Super Bowl XXXV in 2001. He also calls the preseason games of his hometown Packers for the team's statewide television network since 2003. In 2017, he was voted the National Sportscaster of the Year.London Monarchs
The London Monarch were a professional American football team in NFL Europe and its predecessor league, the World League of American Football (WLAF). The Monarchs played their final season in 1998 as the England Monarchs. In 1999, they were replaced by the new Berlin Thunder.Rhein Fire
The Rhein Fire was a professional American football team in NFL Europe, formerly the World League of American Football. Established in Germany in 1995, the franchise resurrected the name of the former Birmingham Fire team which was active during the 1991–1992 WLAF seasons.Rich Waltz
Rich Waltz (born October 22, 1962 in Martinez, California) is an American television play-by-play commentator. A three time Emmy winner, Waltz is best known for calling television broadcasts for the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball from 2005 to 2017. In November 2017, Waltz's dismissal by Fox Sports Florida and the Marlins was criticized by fans and media. As of 2018, Waltz calls baseball on MLB Network and College Football and Basketball for CBS Sports Network, CBS Sports, FS1, Fox Sports, and Turner Sports.Sam Rosen (sportscaster)
Sam Rosen (born Samuel Rosenblum, August 12, 1947) is an American sportscaster and Hockey Hall of Famer, best known as the primary play-by-play announcer for the National Hockey League's New York Rangers games on MSG. On June 8, 2008, Rosen was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. On November 14, 2016, Rosen was enshrined as the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner for outstanding contributions as a broadcaster by the Hockey Hall of Fame.Rosen's current responsibilities include Rangers telecasts and Sunday NFL games for Fox. He is paired with Joe Micheletti on Rangers broadcasts, and Cris Carter, among others, on national Fox broadcasts.Scottish Claymores
The Scottish Claymores were an American football team based in Scotland. The franchise played in the World League of American Football (later renamed NFL Europe) between 1995 and 2004, initially playing all home games at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh and latterly sharing home games with Hampden Park, Glasgow. In ten seasons of NFL Europe play, the Claymores reached the World Bowl on two occasions, with victory in World Bowl '96 but defeat in World Bowl 2000. Their name derives from that of the Claymore, a double-edged sword historically used in Scottish clan warfare.
The Claymores experienced several notable swings in fortune during their ten years. Their World Bowl-winning season of 1996 was the league's first worst-to-first turnaround: having finished 1995 with a 2–8 record and no wins at home, the 1996 Claymores went 7–3 in the regular season and won all their home games. Equally remarkable was the contrast between their first home games of the 2003 and 2004 seasons. In week 1 of the 2003 season, the Claymores defeated the Berlin Thunder 62–31 – the highest scoring game in NFL Europe history – but in 2004 their home opener was a 3–0 defeat at the hands of the Amsterdam Admirals, tying the record for the league's lowest-scoring game.World Bowl
The World Bowl was an annual American football Championship game, to decide the winning team in each season of the World League of American Football/NFL Europe. The World Bowl was played between 1991 and 2007 each year (except 1993 and 1994).
The game was conceived as the final of the NFL-related spring league, the World League. The first World Bowl was played in 1991 in London. 1995 saw a relaunch of the World League, with the North American teams removed, as it had been unsuccessful there. All subsequent World Bowls were played in Europe between European clubs. The league was renamed NFL Europe in 1998. Thus the only World Bowl to take place outside Europe was World Bowl '92 in Montreal, Canada.
The World Bowl trophy itself was a globe made of glass measuring 35.5 cm (14 inches) in diameter and weighing 18.6 kg (41 lbs).World Bowl X
World Bowl X was the 2002 championship game of the NFL Europe League. The game was played at Rheinstadion in Düsseldorf, Germany on Saturday, June 22, 2002. It would be the final event held at Rheinstadion before its demolition.
In this game, the defending champion Berlin Thunder were hoping to protect their title after going through another 6-4 season. This time, their opponent was the 7-3 Rhein Fire, who won the World Bowl in 2000 and were hoping to take home another title. There were 53,109 fans in attendance (the largest World Bowl crowd since 1998), who witnessed NFL Europe history. The Berlin Thunder became the very first NFL Europe team to win back-to-back World Bowls, thanks to their 26-20 victory over the Fire. Thunder WR Dane Looker was given MVP honors, after having 11 receptions for 111 yards and 2 Touchdowns, with his longest reception being 41 Yards.
World League of American Football/NFL Europe/NFL Europa
Professional gridiron football leagues in North America
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