*With three weeks of the regular season remaining, the Frankfurt Galaxy are tied for second place in NFL Europe with a 4-3 record. This weekend they will square off against the Barcelona Dragons, who lead the league at 5-2.
For the Galaxy especially, it will be a crucial game in the quest to play in World Bowl XI, June 14.
Green Bay Packers defensive back Jeremy Unertl will make his second straight start at cornerback for the Galaxy this weekend. From Spain, Unertl continued his NFL Europe Diary:*
Jeremy Unertl: Right now I'm just hanging out in Spain, getting ready for our game against the Barcelona Dragons this weekend. It's an important game for us. We could have helped ourselves out a lot last weekend with a win over Amsterdam (the Galaxy lost 27-24), but that didn't work out.
This weekend is big because if we win, we'll have the tiebreaker over Barcelona. That's huge if we want to make it to the World Bowl.
It's a little hard to tell how dedicated everyone is to that goal. We're all on the same team here, but every guy has his own agenda for what he wants to get out of this experience.
That said, I think we really do have a good nucleus of guys on the team. We've really jelled a lot in past weeks, and the guys on this team take losing hard. I think that's good because it shows that we're good competitors. But it's different from being in college or in the NFL.
Even though it's 'just the World Bowl,' it would be nice to make it there and win. If nothing else, it would be a great reward for working hard throughout the season.
This week has been a little different than those in the past. Normally for away games we travel the day before, but we've been in Barcelona all week.
Apparently our hotel in Frankfurt had some scheduling conflicts. They had a convention or something that had been in the books for years. So it was easier for us to check out of our hotel and come to Barcelona for the week.
On the other hand, it kind of sucked because we were situated there, and we had to move all our stuff for a week, only to go back for two more weeks before the end of the season.
The other bad thing is that we're about 45 minutes away from the stadium here, and we practice at the same place that the Dragons practice. They've been going in the morning and we've been practicing late. It's made for some long days, but it's just one of those things you have to deal with.
It's definitely nice to ahave a change of scenery. Right now I'm sitting on the beach looking over the ocean, and it's nice to be in warm weather.
My family came in last week and watched the Amsterdam game, and they'll get to watch me play this weekend, too. Right now they're hanging out in Barcelona and having a good time.
It's always good to explore new places, and Barcelona is a neat city with a lot of culture and amazing architecture. After the team got into town, we spent Monday just walking around and checking things out.
On the field, things are steadily improving for me. I'm starting at corner now, which is important to me because I had never played that position before I came here. I've worked hard at it and I think I've earned the chance to start, and I'm glad that the coaches have confidence in me.
It's a big change from safety. There's definitely a lot more running at corner, because you're running all over the place on every snap. That takes a toll on you after a while, but I'm adjusting.
The good thing lately is that I've been able to practice consistently at corner. For a while, with our injury situation, I was bouncing around a lot. Now that I'm taking so many reps at one spot, I'm starting to pick up on the little things that I didn't in the past. I'm able to read receivers' breaks just through all the repetition that I've had.
That's made me much more comfortable and more confident. Right now I feel like I can make plays at that position.
We're getting close to the end of the season, but besides a few aches and pains, I'm pretty happy with the way my body has held up. I don't feel any older than I did when I was 18, so that's a positive sign.
The season does take its toll, with the monotony of meetings and travel. And I guess the hardest part is knowing that we're here working hard trying to win the World Bowl, but in the back of our minds we know that when this is over, we only get a short break and then we have to go to training camp.
Let me tell you, the NFL training camp is no joke. It's hard work. But that's just something that we have to deal with.
As I've said before, there are some negatives to playing in NFL Europe, but -- for me at least -- I think the positives far outweigh the negatives.
The experience that I'm getting over here can't be replaced.
Sure, after a while you start to miss people back home, or you miss some of the little things, and in that sense I'm ready to go back. But I'm not 'footballed out,' by any means. I'm sure that after I get a little break at the end of the season, I'll be itching to get back on the field and start competing again.
If I look back to my expectations going into this experience, I don't think I could have guessed how things have gone. I definitely have high expectations for myself, so there are some things that could have gone better, but overall I'm pleased.
There are only a couple weeks left now and I'm going to enjoy the rest of the season. But I do miss home and I'll feel better once I get back in the United States and can enjoy some of those things that I usually take for granted.
Let me have a nice steak, and I'll be all right.