QBs DREW HENSON, BROCK BERLIN & KLIFF KINGSBURY AMONG NFL PLAYERS SEEKING SUCCESS IN EUROPE
The NFL Europe League kicks off its 14th season this Saturday with six teams - the Amsterdam Admirals, Berlin Thunder, Cologne Centurions, Frankfurt Galaxy, Hamburg Sea Devils and Rhein Fire - beginning the race to Yello Strom World Bowl XIV.
"The NFL Europe League has helped expose our sport to an ever-growing number of football fans around the globe," says NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE. "With a terrific mixture of sports and entertainment, NFL Europe has made great progress in establishing itself as a part of the mainstream European sports landscape."
NFL Europe League clubs play a 10-game regular-season schedule beginning Saturday and concluding on Saturday, May 20. The top two teams in the standings will play for the league championship in Yello Strom World Bowl XIV, Saturday, May 27 at LTU Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany.
NFL Network will be the new television home of the NFL Europe League, broadcasting all 30 regular season games, culminating with a live broadcast of the World Bowl.
The Week 1 NFL Europe League television schedule:
Saturday, March 18
Frankfurt at Rhein - 1:00 PM (ET) Live (Broadcasters: Mike Corey, Morten Andersen)
Saturday, March 18
Berlin at Amsterdam - 7:00 PM (ET) (Broadcasters: Rich Ackerman, Jon Ritchie)
Sunday, March 19
Cologne at Hamburg - 3:00 PM (ET) (Broadcasters: Rich Ackerman, Cris Carter)
NFL teams allocated 272 players to NFL Europe in 2006, the most in league history. Among those who hope to help their team to a World Bowl title are quarterbacks DREW HENSON (Rhein Fire) of the Dallas Cowboys, BROCK BERLIN (Hamburg Sea Devils) of the Miami Dolphins and KLIFF KINGSBURY (Cologne Centurions) of the New York Jets.
The success of NFL Europe veterans in the NFL continued in 2005, as four former Europe Leaguers made the Pro Bowl - Carolina quarterback JAKE DELHOMME (Amsterdam, 1998; Frankfurt, 1999), St. Louis defensive tackle LA'ROI GLOVER (Barcelona, 1997), Buffalo punter BRIAN MOORMAN (Berlin, 2000-01) and Kansas City guard BRIAN WATERS (Berlin, 2000).
NFL Europe alumni were no strangers to the playoffs in 2005, highlighted by 10 Europe Leaguers on the rosters of Super Bowl XL participants Pittsburgh and Seattle.
The quarterback position has seen its share of NFL Europe standouts excel at the highest level, including Delhomme, who spent time with Amsterdam and Frankfurt, while helping the 1999 Galaxy to a championship. Former Europe League quarterbacks KURT WARNER (Amsterdam, 1998) and BRAD JOHNSON (London, 1995) have each guided teams to a Super Bowl title.
In all, 27 former NFL Europe quarterbacks have started for NFL teams. A closer look at the NFLEL QB Class of 2006:
Jared Allen, Amsterdam, Tampa Bay
Gibran Hamdan *, Amsterdam, Seattle
Reggie Robertson, Amsterdam, Oakland
Lang Campbell *, Berlin, Cleveland
B.J. Symons, Berlin, Houston
Brian Wrobel, Berlin, Green Bay
Shane Boyd, Cologne, Pittsburgh
Kliff Kingsbury *, Cologne, New York Jets
Tory Woodbury, Cologne, Buffalo
Craig Ochs, Frankfurt, Buffalo
Jeff Otis *, Frankfurt, Arizona
Bryson Spinner, Frankfurt, San Francisco
Brock Berlin *, Hamburg, Miami
James Kilian, Hamburg, Kansas City
Todd Mortensen, Hamburg, New England
John Bowenkamp, Rhein, Free agent
Timmy Chang, Rhein, Philadelphia
Drew Henson *, Rhein, Dallas
* Projected Week 1 Starter
NOTABLE NFL EUROPE LEAGUE ALUMNI
The 2005 NFL season featured outstanding performances by Europe League veterans, not only at quarterback, but at all positions:
JAKE DELHOMME, QB, Carolina (Amsterdam, 1998; Frankfurt, 1999) - Passed for 3,421 yards and 24 touchdowns while guiding the Panthers to the NFC Championship Game. Named to first Pro Bowl team last year. Helped Frankfurt to a World Bowl title in 1999.
LA'ROI GLOVER, DT, St. Louis (Barcelona, 1997) - Earned his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl berth last season with the Dallas Cowboys. Glover led the 1997 Barcelona Dragons in sacks and was instrumental in helping the team win the World Bowl.
DANTE HALL, WR/P-KR, Kansas City (Scotland, 2001) - Solidified his standing as one of the game's most dynamic returners in 2005, averaging 24.0 yards per kickoff return. Standout wide receiver for Scotland in 2001.
BRIAN MOORMAN, P, Buffalo (Berlin, 2000-01) - Made his Pro Bowl debut after averaging a league-best 45.7 yards per punt. All-time Thunder leader with a career punting average of 44.9 yards and a single-season average of 46.4.
SEAN MOREY, WR, Pittsburgh (Barcelona, 2000, 2003) - The Steelers' special teams captain helped Pittsburgh win Super Bowl XL. Finished with 69 catches for 809 yards and 10 touchdowns in two seasons with Barcelona.
MARCUS ROBINSON, WR, Minnesota (Rhein, 1998) - Led the Vikings with five touchdown receptions and averaged a team-best 16.6 yards per catch. Won the 1998 NFL Europe Offensive MVP award, helping Rhein to a championship.
MARCO RIVERA, G, Dallas (Scotland, 1997) - Three-time All Star started 14 games in his first season with the Dallas Cowboys. A consistent performer for Scotland in 1997.
ADAM VINATIERI, K, New England (Amsterdam, 1996) - Among the best in the game at his position. Became the Patriots' all-time leading scorer last year. Led the '96 Admirals in scoring before earning a spot with the Patriots, where he has won three Super Bowls.
BRIAN WATERS, G, Kansas City (Berlin, 2000) - Elected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after a standout season on the offensive line for the Chiefs.
NFL clubs have consistently recognized the value of NFL Europe in developing players. In 2006, NFL teams allocated a record 272 players to the league. The following is a year-by-year breakdown of NFL players allocated to NFL Europe since 1995:
2006 - 272
2005 - 271
2004 - 229
2003 - 208
2002 - 266
2001 - 229
2000 - 153
1999 - 152
1998 - 97
1997 - 119
1996 - 72
1995 - 37
NFL Europe has also served as a means for players worldwide to further their football development. In 2006, 80 players from around the world attended training camp in the hopes of earning one of 48 rosters spots - eight per team - reserved for "national" or non-North American players.
The national players on kickoff weekend rosters hail from 11 countries - Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Following is background information on each of NFL Europe's six head coaches:
BART ANDRUS, Amsterdam - Enters his sixth season as head coach of the Admirals after leading the team to victory in World Bowl XIII. Named NFL Europe Coach of the Year in 2005. Quarterbacks coach of the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.
JACK BICKNELL, Hamburg - Guided the Sea Devils to the most successful debut season of any expansion team in NFLEL history. Has coached in NFL Europe since the league began in 1991 (Barcelona; Scotland) and has won more regular-season games (61) than any coach in league history.
DAVID DUGGAN, Cologne - Begins first season as head coach of the Centurions. Spent past two seasons as team's defensive coordinator. Won two World Bowls as defensive coordinator of the Berlin Thunder.
MIKE JONES, Frankfurt - Became the fifth head coach in Galaxy history in January 2004 and led the team to a berth in World Bowl XII in his first season. Earned two World Bowl rings in six years as an assistant with the Rhein Fire. A former NFL wide receiver with Minnesota and New Orleans.
RICK LANTZ, Berlin - Led the Thunder to World Bowl appearances in each of his first two seasons, including a World Bowl XII victory in 2004. His collegiate coaching experience includes stints at Navy, Miami and Notre Dame. Spent 1980-82 as linebackers coach for the New England Patriots.
JIM TOMSULA, Rhein - Named head coach of the Fire in 2006 after spending last season as defensive coordinator of the Berlin Thunder. Previously served as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator of the England Monarchs and Scottish Claymores.
Fans can follow the development of tomorrow's NFL stars today, as all 30 NFLEL regular-season games will be televised in the United States NFL Network, culminating with a live broadcast of the World Bowl on Saturday, May 27.
In addition to airing the entire slate of games, NFL Network will also air an NFL Europe "Game of the Week" every Sunday night in primetime at 8:00 PM ET highlighting the best game from weekend action.
Current and former NFL players will be in the broadcast booth this season, including CRIS CARTER, MORTEN ANDERSEN and JON RITCHIE.