The Frankfurt Galaxy dominated the NFL Europe League's individual honors for the 2003 season on the eve of their battle with the Rhein Fire in World Bowl XI (Saturday, June 14, 12:00 PM ET, FOX), while a player who called Scotland's Hampden Park, site of this year's championship game, his home in 2003 received the league's accolades as well.
Buffalo Bills running back Ken Simonton (Scottish Claymores) won the voting for Offensive MVP after leading the league with 871 rushing yards and finishing fourth with 39 receptions.
Galaxy safety Rashidi Barnes, in his second year with the team, was named Defensive Most Valuable Player by the league's head coaches after finishing the season as joint league leader with four interceptions and posting 45 tackles.
Head coach Doug Graber was recognized for leading the Galaxy to a league-best 6-4 record and a record fifth appearance in the NFLEL championship game when he was named as the league's Coach of the Year.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the 2003 All-NFL Europe League team saw the Claymores leading the way with seven players selected, while the Galaxy had six players named to the team and World Bowl opponents Rhein had three. The other players came from the F.C. Barcelona Dragons (five), Amsterdam Admirals (four) and Berlin Thunder (two).
Simonton, allocated by the Buffalo Bills, began the season by scoring four touchdowns in one game and ended as the league leader with 10 touchdowns. His combined total of 1,253 yards from scrimmage was almost 500 yards ahead of his nearest challenger and left him only 15 yards short of the NFLEL record held by ex-Dragon Lawrence Phillips.
Simonton is the fifth straight running back to be named Offensive MVP and Claymores head coach Gene Dahlquist said: "He is a tremendous all-round player. We tried to figure out more and more ways to get him the ball."
Barnes, originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns after an outstanding college career at Colorado, led the Galaxy with 58 tackles in 2002 and was chosen by coach Graber as one of his protected veterans for the 2003 season.
Coach Graber said: "Rashidi is a great leader of our defense. He plays hard in every game and sets a fine example for the rest of his teammates."
Graber, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator, is in his third season with the Galaxy and proved his defensive expertise by producing the league's top ranked defense for the third straight year.
NFL Vice-President of Football Operations John Beake said: "Coaching in the NFL Europe League is a great challenge. From the beginning of training camp, staffs have only a few weeks to turn a completely new set of players into a competitive unit. Having just missed out on World Bowl last year, coach Graber once again produced a team that made a fast start and played tough in the crucial games to earn a place in the championship game."
The Claymores' Craig Nall, league leader with a 95.9 passer rating, was named as the quarterback of the All-NFLEL team, voted for by a combination of NFLEL coaching staffs, media and fans voting online at NFLEurope.com. He was one of four Claymores players named to the offensive team, with kicker Rob Hart also winning the vote after leading the league in scoring with 64 points.
Apart from Hart, Amsterdam tight end Ryan Collins was the only other player to be named to the team for a second time. He was the only member of the 2002 team to be chosen. Admirals teammate Carlos Rosado, from Mexico, was selected as the national offensive player after catching 25 passes, while the Fire's German defensive tackle, Bastian Lano, was named as the national player for the defense after leading his team with 6.5 sacks.
Center Luke Butkus, who made the team despite a midseason injury, and wide receiver Kendall Newson were the other Fire players to win selection.
Amsterdam Admirals defensive end Jonathan Brown finally won a place on the team, having not been selected when he played for the Thunder in 2000 despite being named as Defensive MVP. Berlin running back David Allen was named as the special teams player after a season in which he set a new single-season record with 1,921 all-purpose yards, including a record 915 on kick returns.
NFL EUROPE LEAGUE HONOURS 2003
COACH OF THE YEAR: Doug Graber (Frankfurt Galaxy)
OFFENSIVE MVP (Selected by the NFL Europe head coaches): RB Ken Simonton, Buffalo Bills (Scottish Claymores)
DEFENSIVE MVP (Selected by the NFL Europe head coaches): S Rashidi Barnes (Frankfurt Galaxy)
ALL-NFL EUROPE LEAGUE TEAM (Selected by the NFLEL coaching staffs, media and by fans voting online at NFLEurope.com)
QB, Craig Nall, Green Bay (Scotland)
WR, Robert Baker, Miami (Frankfurt)
WR, Matthew Hatchette (Amsterdam)
WR, Kendall Newson, Miami (Rhein)
RB, Ken Simonton, Buffalo (Scotland)
TE, Ryan Collins (Amsterdam) *
T, David Costa, Pittsburgh (Scotland)
G, Troy Andrew, Miami (Barcelona)
C, Luke Butkus, San Diego (Rhein)
G, Michael Moore, Atlanta (Frankfurt)
T, Justin Bland, Oakland (Scotland)
NAT., Carlos Rosado (Amsterdam)
K, Rob Hart (Scotland) **
ST, David Allen, Jacksonville (Berlin)
(Nat - National player; ST - Special Teams player)
- Selected in 2002
** Selected in 2001
DE, Lamanzer Williams, Miami (Berlin)
DT, Luis Almanzar, Seattle (Frankfurt)
DT, Michael Landry, Kansas City (Scotland)
DE, Jonathan Brown (Amsterdam)
LB, Tito Rodriguez, Cincinnati (Barcelona)
LB, Yubrenal Isabelle (Scotland)
LB, Idris Price, Tampa Bay (Frankfurt)
CB, Jason Waters, Atlanta (Barcelona)
S, Rashidi Barnes (Frankfurt)
S, Calvin Spears (Frankfurt)
CB, Antuan Simmons (Barcelona)
NAT., Bastian Lano (Rhein)
P, Nick Murphy, Minnesota (Barcelona)