*Offensive lineman Steve Morley finds himself in a unique position as he is about to kick off a season in his third different professional football league in the past few years.
After playing with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders in his native Canada in 2003, Morley was on the Packers' 53-man roster for the entire 2004 season, although he didn't get into a regular season game. He now embarks on a 10-game season with the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe and is eager to give his coaches in Green Bay a look at what he's capable of in game action.
Marking his first time outside of North America, Morley is excited about the different things he will encounter both on and off the field during his spring in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Morley and his Rhein Fire teammates will travel to The Netherlands this weekend to open the season against the Amsterdam Admirals. Morley is slated to anchor the line at left tackle, helping to protect fellow Packer-allocate, quarterback Scott McBrien.
The following is the first installment of Steve Morley's 2005 NFL Europe Diary:*
We've been in Germany for a little over a week now, and our first game is coming up in Amsterdam Saturday night. I'm really excited to get on the field and show some of what I can do.
I think I'm adjusting pretty well after the long flight over from our training camp in Tampa, Florida. It was a nine hour flight, but it wasn't too bad. I had some DVDs with me and listened to music for almost the whole trip. The two seats beside me were empty so I had a lot of leg room and free space. It would have been tough if all the seats were full, but I was happy with it.
Training camp was a 20-day camp and it was a good camp. The coaches worked me at left guard and left tackle the entire time. I thought it went pretty well and I got some positive feedback, so I was happy with that. We had four scrimmages, which was a good way to get a look at the other teams in the league, so I definitely got a lot of reps and I can't complain about that.
It definitely wasn't a vacation, but Tampa Bay is a really great place. The weather was great - the sun was out every day at our practices, and it was refreshing to get out of the cold weather.
I'm having a good time in Düsseldorf so far. I've seen a lot of the main attractions. I've been downtown and seen the Rhein River, which was pretty impressive. The town is a pretty nice place. There's a lot of history here, and you can really tell the city was built to last.
We had a big pep rally after we had been in Düsseldorf for a few days which a couple thousand fans showed up for to greet us. They're really keen here about the Rhein Fire, so that's a plus.
There are a few other players allocated by the Packers on the Fire as well, so it was nice to have some familiar faces on my team. I've been talking with Scott McBrien a lot and have hung out with him a couple of times.
I've made a lot of new friends on the O-line, too, and they're definitely a great bunch of guys and we're having a great time and look forward to a great season here.
One thing that has been a bit of a difference for me and my teammates (apart from the fact that almost everyone here is speaking a language where we have no idea what they're saying) has been the food. The team feeds us at the hotel that we're living in and at the stadium after practices.
So far, we all agree that the bread is a lot different over here. When you bite it, it almost feels like you're biting into a brick so we call it "brick bread". The differences in everything else aren't huge, but everything seems to taste just a little bit different.
As far as practices go, I've been told that the Rhein Fire practices are the hardest of all six teams in NFL Europe. Our head coach, Pete Kuharchek, is kind of old school and has us in full pads every day.
You get a lot of game-type reps and he runs a pretty tight ship. The practices are very physical - obviously the talent level isn't the same as it is practicing in Green Bay - but we're out there hitting every day and you've got to stay sharp.
They had me working at left guard through most of training camp, but then the left tackle went down so I'm out at tackle for this week's game at Amsterdam.
I haven't played in an actual game since the end of the preseason last summer, so I'm looking forward to the feel of a game. You get tired of being in practice all the time without playing in a game at the end of the week. You definitely need that game to keep your mind right. I'm looking forward to playing four quarters of football this Saturday.
Stateside fans looking to get a good look at Morley and the rest of the Packers' allocated players will get their chance as the Fire's game at Amsterdam will be televised live by the NFL Network Saturday, April 2 at 11:00 a.m. (CST).