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Jeremy Unertl: NFL Europe Diary


*The last time he checked in, Jeremy Unertl and the Frankfurt Galaxy were coming off a loss and sat tied for second place in NFL Europe. Two weeks and two wins later, Frankfurt has sole possession of first place and has clinched a spot in World Bowl XI, June 14, in Glasgow, Scotland.

With one week remaining in the regular season, Frankfurt will attempt to push its record to 7-3 this weekend. Meanwhile, a trio of teams will be battling for the right to meet the Galaxy in the World Bowl.

As the end of his overseas journey draws near, Unertl provided another entry to his diary:*

Jeremy Unertl: The last time I checked in, we were in Barcelona having a rough travel week and needing a win to stay in the World Bowl race. What could have been a bad week actually was the turning point for us.

We went into Barcelona, played really hard and had a great game. That carried over into practice, and right now we seem to be running on all cylinders. We're playing a great team game and that's the difference. It's given us a lot of confidence as we move toward the end of the season.

Clinching a World Bowl berth was cool. We have a couple guys on the team who have played in NFL Europe before, but none of us have been to the World Bowl, so it's new to all of us.

Two months ago, I didn't know these guys, but we've worked really hard and it's nice to know that you've accomplished something that everyone in this league is striving for. We set the World Bowl as a goal, and now we know we're going to play there.

As for where I'm playing, I'm still at cornerback. Every week my game is evolving as I learn more about the position. More than safety, it's an instinctual position and the more reps I get, the more I feel like I'm able to read the receivers and the offense.

My comfort level grows every time I'm out there. Of course, the more you learn, the more coaches expect from you. I can't use the excuse anymore that the position is new to me. Now it's to the point that I have to come ready to ball every day.

My previous experience has been as a safety, but I like playing corner. It allows you to make more plays, because at safety a team might never throw your way and then it's hard to make interceptions. At corner you can make some breaks and guess on a couple of things and see what happens.

Last week I got my third interception of the season. It was a fade route, the guy took me deep and I just followed the ball. I think naturally I've always been a ball-hawk. I usually see the ball pretty well and I look for the interception.

I came over here expecting to play safety, but I'm in a profession where I'm just trying to find a niche. Right now it's hard to say where I'll go from here. I know that I've been playing safety for the last three years, and I don't think I'm a better corner than a safety, but I'm just looking for a spot where I can play.

The tough thing is, and I was talking to my coaches about this, if I'm going to play corner, I think I need to try and lose a little weight. I'm at about 215 pounds right now, and obviously I'm still able to run pretty well, but most corners aren't over 200 pounds.

Now, I'm taller, so I'm able to carry more weight, but if I was going to play corner, I think I'd like to play around 210 or 207. That would probably be ideal for me. But if I'm going to play safety, it's good to have the weight. So I'm kind of in limbo.

As for going into Packers training camp, I don't know what to expect and I'm pretty impartial on where I should play.

Coach (Bob) Slowik will have watched my film and will probably know the best possible way I can win a spot on the team. When you're a young guy trying to fit in, you just want to make an impression anywhere on the field.

This weekend we're leaving for Berlin, and then we're going straight to Scotland for the World Bowl, so Thursday was our last practice in Frankfurt.

In my time here, I think that the biggest impression Frankfurt made on me was with the diversity of the people. I'm not used to that from where I'm from, but here there's every kind of culture possible. It's neat to see all those different people together.

As for the biggest negative, other than little things like not being able to get the kind of food you want, it's probably the lack of air conditioning. It's been unusually warm lately, around 85 degrees but really humid, and there's no A/C anywhere.

At night you can't leave the windows open because of the mosquitoes, so I've been trying to get by with a little fan. In America, you're used to having luxuries like air conditioning everywhere you go, so the guys have been doing a good deal of complaining about that. And I guess it's 90 degrees in Berlin right now.

But I've talked about it with other players, and even though you find yourself missing home and the people you care about, there are more positives to this experience than negatives. But I'm definitely ready to get home.

As far as the sites, I think the thing I'll remember most is going to Scotland and seeing that castle. My girlfriend was here at the time and it was nice to be able to share that together. Plus, it was the second week of the season, so it was a fantastic first impression.

In recent days, a lot of the guys have been trying to buy more bags, because we've accumulated so much stuff while we've been here and now we have to get it home. I'm a heavy packer to begin with, and now I have even more, most of it shirts and shoes and things like that.

I don't know how I'm going to fit it all together, I really don't. But I'll figure something out.

We've got the World Bowl to deal with first and that's exciting, although no one is sure what to expect. I mean, it's not the Super Bowl, it's the World Bowl. We don't know if it's going to be a really hyped event, or if it will just be like another game.

For us, that's the way we'll treat it. But we'll enjoy it too, because we've worked hard for it and we've earned it.

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