NFL Europe

The World League of American Football (shortened to WLAF or World League[2]), 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[3] 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.[3] The NFL assumed the expenses of players and coaches living in Europe.[3] 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.[4]

World League of American Football
NFL Europe
NFL Europa
SportAmerican football
Founded1989[1]
Inaugural season1991
Ceased2007
Owner(s)National Football League
No. of teams10 (1991–1992)
6 (1995–2007)
CountriesCanada (1991–1992)
Germany (1991–2007)
Netherlands (1995–2007)
Spain (1991–2003)
United Kingdom (1991–2004)
United States (1991–1992)
Last
champion(s)
Hamburg Sea Devils
Most titlesFrankfurt Galaxy, 4

History

A previous proposed league in the 1970s, the Intercontinental Football League, had contained many elements of the eventual all-European league.[5] 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.[5] The IFL would have involved teams in Barcelona, Rome, West Berlin, Munich, Vienna and Istanbul, but was cancelled due to economic and political problems.[5]

World League of American Football (WLAF)

WLAF
WLAF logo

The World League of American Football was formed in 1989, by a unanimous vote of NFL owners,[1] as a spring developmental league, the "brainchild" of commissioner Paul Tagliabue.[3] 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.[6] Team payrolls and budgets were controlled by the WLAF office[6] but not all teams were owned by the league; in May 1992 it owned five (including Barcelona, London and Frankfurt) and part-owned three.[1]

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.[7]

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[8] 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.[9] The original WLAF was barely noticed in the United States, having a "minor-league or developmental image"[7] and low TV ratings.[6] In the non-U.S. cities of London, Barcelona, Frankfurt and Montreal, crowds surpassed early expectations.[7] The Monarchs' home attendance led the league,[10] and the 1991 World Bowl played at Wembley Stadium was attended by 61,108.[11]

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.[12] The WLAF lost $7 million in 1991.[1]

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.[13]

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.

Twin Towers, Wembley Stadium - geograph.org.uk - 1125645
Wembley Stadium, the host stadium of World Bowl '91

1991 season

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
      
1 Spain Barcelona Dragons 10
4 United States Birmingham Fire 3
Spain Barcelona Dragons 0
England London Monarchs 21
3 England London Monarchs 42
2 United States New York/New Jersey Knights 26

1992 season

The WLAF's second season was confirmed to go ahead on 23 October 1991, six months before it kicked off.[11][14]

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.[15] Paul Tagliabue mentioned plans to bring it back with only European teams, possibly in 1994.[15][16] 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."[16]

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
      
1 Birmingham Fire 7
4 Orlando Thunder 45
Sacramento Surge 21
Orlando Thunder 17
3 Barcelona Dragons 15
2 Sacramento Surge 17

1995 comeback

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,[17] and the third WLAF season began in April 1995. The 1995 WLAF[2] was based entirely in Europe, and was reduced to six teams.[18] 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.[19] The relaunched league was sponsored by Reebok, which also manufactured team uniforms and apparel.[20]

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.[21]

The London Monarchs left Wembley for reasons of cost, size and availability,[18][19] and the team's home games were played at Tottenham Hotspur F.C.'s White Hart Lane in the 1995 and 1996 seasons.[22] 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.[23][24]

1996 season

The 1996 season was confirmed to go ahead before World Bowl '95, ten months before the 1996 kickoff.[21]

More than 100 players with World League experience played in the American NFL in 1996.[25][26] 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[27][28] and the Scottish Claymores' kicker was Scotland's national rugby union team captain, Gavin Hastings.[27][29]

1997 season

The London Monarchs moved to Stamford Bridge for the 1997 season.[30]

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.[31] 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.

NFL Europe

NFL Europe
NFL Europe logo
Michael Bishop Frankfurt Galaxy 514nfl9
Frankfurt's Michael Bishop passing against Scotland, 2001

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,[32] 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.[3] 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"[31] and claimed attendances were less vital to revenues than before 1998.[31] 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.

Barcelona Dragons
Barcelona Dragons played at FC Barcelona’s reserves mini stadium (pictured in 2003) for one full season before being dropped by the club due to lack of fan interest and financial difficulties

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';[33] 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.[34]

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.

NFL Europa and cessation of operations

NFL Europe Logo
The league's final logo

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.[4][35] 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.

Brent Grimes-Hamburg Sea Devils
Hamburg Sea Devils's Brent Grimes intercepts against Amsterdam Admirals, May 12, 2007

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".[36] The league reportedly was losing about $30 million a season.[36]

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."[3]

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.[3] 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.[3]

NFL Europe/NFL Europa was credited with giving training to coaching interns and game officials, and as a useful testing ground for potential NFL rule changes.[3]

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.[37]

The NFL announced plans for a "stronger international focus on regular-season games outside the United States".[38] 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.

Since 2007, the most prominent intra-European competitions have been the BIG6 league, European Football League, EFAF Cup (2002–2013), and EFAF European Championship.

Teams

North American teams Active
Birmingham Fire 1991–92
Montreal Machine 1991–92
New York/New Jersey Knights 1991–92
Ohio Glory 1992
Orlando Thunder 1991–92
Raleigh–Durham Skyhawks 1991
Sacramento Surge 1991–92
San Antonio Riders 1991–92
European teams Active
Amsterdam Admirals 1995–2007
Barcelona Dragons 1991–2003
Berlin Thunder 1999–2007
Cologne Centurions 2004–2007
Frankfurt Galaxy 1991–2007
Hamburg Sea Devils 2005–2007
London/England Monarchs 1991–1998
Rhein Fire 1995–2007
Scottish Claymores 1995–2004

All competing teams, 1991–92:

WLAF map
NFLE Map 2006


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.

Experimental rules

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.[39]

Since 2010, the NFL has applied a similar set of overtime rules and several further tweaks were made in 2012.[40] Starting with the 2017 season, the 15-minute overtime period was shortened to 10 minutes after gaining approval from the NFL team owners.[41]

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).

Galaxy-RunIn
An NFL-style team entrance at a 2007 NFL Europe game

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).[42] 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[43] 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.[44] The Monarchs' first kicker was former Norwich City centre-half Phil Alexander. Ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker Clive Allen also kicked for the Monarchs,[45][46] while fellow footballers Jesús Angoy, Manfred Burgsmüller and Silvio Diliberto kicked for the Barcelona Dragons, Rhein Fire and Amsterdam Admirals respectively.[47]

Uniforms

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.[48] 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".[31]

Television coverage

1991–92

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.

ABC Sports broadcast some games in both seasons, mostly on Sunday afternoons. ABC showed the 1991 World Bowl, while USA carried the game in 1992.

The reported cost of the contracts varied – the L.A. Times said that ABC had paid $28m for two years, and USA $25m.[6] 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.[1] 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.[1][6] Both networks asked the WLAF to expand into two major U.S. markets for 1993.[1]

1991 season coverage in Europe was mostly on satellite. Eurosport showed games on delay[10] and Super Channel showed the 1991 World Bowl.[10] Channel 4 showed half-hour highlights of Monarchs games on Saturday mornings.[10] 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."[10]

Coverage in Canada was led by RDS, a French-language broadcaster, which focused on Montreal Machine games.

1995–2007

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,[19][49] 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,[21][49] STV,[21][49] and Carlton.[21] Eight European continental broadcasters also showed coverage,[49] including Germany's Vox and DSF.[21]

Announcers who called NFL Europe games over the years included Curt Menefee, Nick Halling, Ari Wolfe, Troy Aikman, Daryl "Moose" Johnston, Michael Reghi, and Brentson Buckner.

EuroPass, an offshoot of FieldPass, broadcast Internet video of games, free of charge, in the league's later years.

Stadiums

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)
31,600
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)
2003
15,276
Berlin Thunder F. L. Jahn Sportpark, Berlin, Germany 1999–2002
2006 (one game)
19,500
Olympiastadion, Berlin 2003–2007 76,000
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)
1997
42,449
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
1999–2000 (part-time)
2002 (one game)
67,500
Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland 1998 (one game)
1999–2000 (part-time)
2001–2004
52,500

Attendance

Year Games Total Average
WLAF[9]
1991 50 1,268,066 25,361
1992 50 1,210,817 24,216
1993
1994
1995 30 436,853 14,562
1996 30 516,171 17,206
1997 30 546,433 18,214
NFL Europe[9]
1998 30 499,034 16,634
1999 30 544,844 18,161
2000 30 540,438 18,015
2001 30 557,038 18,568
2002 30 541,546 18,052
2003 30 494,448 16,482
2004 30 477,741 15,925
2005 30 568,935 18,965
2006 30 529,988 17,666
NFL Europa[9]
2007 30 600,600 20,020
490 9,332,952 19,047
Team Year 2005 Year 2006 Year 2007
Frankfurt Galaxy
29,377
28,118
33,043
Rhein Fire
22,532
22,020
24,473
Hamburg Sea Devils
17,920
15,082
20,874
Berlin Thunder
16,848
13,819
15,710
Cologne Centurions
14,238
13,538
14,352
Amsterdam Admirals
12,877
13,421
11,668
Average 18,966 17,666 20,020

Presidents

  • Tex Schramm 18 April 1989 – 10 October 1990
  • Mike Lynn 10 October 1990 – 30 July 1991
  • Joe Bailey (COO) 1992
  • Marc Lory 12 September 1994 – 1995
  • Oliver Luck 13 July 1995 – 1999
  • Bill Peterson 8 November 1999 – 2000
  • Jim Connelly 27 March 2001 – 2007

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d e f g SMITH, TIMOTHY W. (7 May 1992). "World League vs. N.F.L., In a Board Room, That Is". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b The abbreviation "World League" was often used in field signs/ads/merchandise/books in 1991 and 1992, but "World League of American Football" was often used on TV and posters in 1995, 1996 and 1997
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pasquarelli, Len (29 June 2007). "NFL Europa failed to produce players, profits". ESPN.com. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b "NFL Europa to cease operations". NFL.com. 29 June 2007. Archived from the original on 3 July 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Mark L. Ford and Massimo Foglio. "THE FIRST "NFL EUROPE"" (PDF). THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 27, No. 6 (2005). Pro Football Researchers. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e Dufresne, Chris (21 May 1991). "Europe Takes to WLAF, but Will It Catch On Here?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Stellino, Vito (7 April 1991). "WLAF attendance surpassing early hopes in Europe and Canada". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Chicago Bears install helmet cameras to study quarterback play at rookie camp". Sports Illustrated. 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2013-05-11. The World League of American Football used similar cameras as part of its game broadcasts in the 1990s
  9. ^ a b c d "League History". WLAF. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d e Eichel, Larry (8 June 1991). "In Europe, WLAF's Game Was More Than Football". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  11. ^ a b "WLAF History: 1991". WLAF. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  12. ^ Dufresne, Chris (21 May 1991). "Europe Takes to WLAF, but Will It Catch On Here? [Page 2]". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  13. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/12/sports/football-wlaf-is-seeking-nfl-talent.html
  14. ^ Greene, Jerry (5 June 1992). "Bailey: World League 'Will Be Back'". Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  15. ^ a b "NFL owners disband World League". The Independent. 18 September 1992. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  16. ^ a b Tench, Matt (19 September 1992). "End of the World League (1992)". The Independent. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  17. ^ "Sporting Digest: American Football". The Independent. 22 July 1994. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  18. ^ a b Elliott, Keith (26 March 1993). "Plan for smaller World League". The Independent. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  19. ^ a b c O'Hagan, Simon (26 March 1995). "Monarchs seek to rule the world". The Independent. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  20. ^ Carter, Meg (15 January 1995). "Media: Sports sponsors play for a bigger stake in the game". The Independent. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  21. ^ a b c d e f Halling, Nick (19 June 1995). "WLAF to build on a fitting finale". The Independent. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  22. ^ "Monarchs to play at Spurs". 24 August 1994. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  23. ^ Cassidy, Alex (2015). American Football's Forgotten Kings: The Rise and Fall of the London Monarchs. Pitch Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1785311085. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  24. ^ Rushin, Steve (September 25, 2013). "Up next for the NFL in UK ... How about the London Fletchers?". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  25. ^ "WORLD CLASS: OTHER WORLD LEAGUERS MAKING A LIVING IN THE NFL". The Independent. 4 November 1996. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  26. ^ Halling, Nick (24 June 1997). "World League set fair for future". The Independent. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  27. ^ a b "World League's big chance". The Independent. 11 April 1996. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  28. ^ Tench, Matt (11 April 1996). "What's in The Fridge?". The Independent. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  29. ^ Halling, Nick (10 April 1996). "Hastings ready for his big kick-off". The Independent. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  30. ^ "London Monarchs to play World League matches at Stamford Bridge". The Independent. 13 December 1996. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
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  32. ^ "Sporting Digest: American football (Monarchs name change)". The Independent. 8 October 1997. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  33. ^ Referred to as "NFL Germany" in Der Spiegel: “Kirmes, Hot Dogs und Eiertanz”. 02.04.2004.
  34. ^ https://forum.nfluk.com/showthread.php?t=4033
  35. ^ "NFL Europa closes" (Press release). National Football League. 3 August 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
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  37. ^ "America Is Exporting a Rotten Product to Great Britain". Time. October 24, 2013.
  38. ^ Associated Press. "NFL folds Europe league, to focus on regular-season games abroad". ESPN. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  39. ^ Europass: Unusual tie is Thunder's gain NFL.com. Accessed 29 June 2007.
  40. ^ "NFL overtime rules". NFL.com. National Football League. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
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  48. ^ World League of American Football/National Football League Europe Uniforms
  49. ^ a b c d Halling, Nick (13 April 1996). "Three-pronged attack in quest for credibility". The Independent. Retrieved 28 May 2014.

See also

External links

Amsterdam Admirals

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.

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