Today was gameday for us. We hosted a friendly against a team from Belgium, the Verviers Mustangs.
We expected a hard fight since they are an experienced team that plays in Belgium’s second division.
It wasn’t easy all right. While my denfense and I kept them at zero points during the first half, we also only managed to score 10 points offensively. The third quarter was totally ours though. We tried some new defense formations which our opponent’s offense couldn’t handle at all and sacked their Quarterback four times. This brought our offense into play time and again, and with good field position too. Towards the end of the game we led with 27:0.
Mere minutes before the final whistle the Mustangs reared up one last time, marched down the field in large chunks and scored a touchdown. We stopped the two point conversion and the score remained 27:6 until the end.
We’re very happy with the game. Our performance wasn’t perfect of course, but now we know what we have to work on until the playoffs begin.
Today’s photos aren’t uploaded yet, so here’s one from another game where one of our Linebackers and I are about to bring down the Troisdorf Jets’ Running Back.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to lie down on the couch for the rest of the day.
Once we had splurged on that NFL Game Pass at the end of September 2015 there was no stopping us, we watched as many games as we could cram into our schedules. Towards the end of the year, after having watched American football pretty much on a daily basis for three months, Lakisa suddenly asked me if there were any football teams, maybe even women’s football teams, in Germany.
Yeah, sure, probably, I guess. Something along those lines. The question took me by surprise, because I hadn’t thought about playing myself for even a second. Lakisa’s a good bit younger than I, and she’s also more sporty, so it’s no surprise that she was the first to have that idea.
We researched a bit and found out that, yes, Cologne has in fact two football clubs, one of which has a women’s team too. It’s the Cologne Falcons, the women’s team is called Cologne Falconets (which is not the correct term for a female falcon I think, but, yeah…).
Despite my age (I was 39 at the time) I really liked the idea, stoked about the sport as I was, so we both decided to attend to a tryout training in January 2016.
It was great! I couldn’t move for almost a week after mine, muscles were hurting I hadn’t known I had, but I didn’t have that much fun doing any kind of sport before. Lakisa was very enthusiastic too, although she was a bit worried about the injury risk from the start.
We both decided to become members and play for real.
The first months were great. I quickly became fitter than I had been in two decades and training was fun. Come March we began preparing for the season in earnest though, and the game became exponentially more physical and complex. That I tried myself at Linebacker, the most sophisticated position on defense, didn’t help. There wasn’t really time to tend to newbies anymore, and most of the time I didn’t know what I was doing. After 3 1/2 months I decided that I’m too old for that kind of stuff after all and quit with a heavy heart.
Luckily Lakisa fared better. She became Cornerback, trained, played season games and reached the Playoffs with her team.
During the season’s course she had to witness some of her teammates getting injured pretty badly though, and decided to call it quits after that season. She doesn’t have a job where she can afford to call in sick for weeks or even months, so I totally understand that decision.
Still, we were both a bit saddened that it didn’t work out as intended, and I for one refused to accept that I’d never play football for real.
Luckily for me Lakisa stayed in touch with some of her teammates and in their facebook-group, because in December 2016 she became aware that the Falcons would found a second men’s team in January, specifically aimed at newcomers. I was overjoyed when she told me, and I instantly knew that I would seize that opportunity.
We started training at the end of January. As promised we were taught the game from the ground up. The coaching staff is great, the atmosphere focused yet fun. Not every player who joined the team persevered, it is a demanding sport. Those who stayed became a tight-knit group, the usual rivalry aside even offense and defense get along really well.
Since this isn’t the NFL our average heights and weights are not even close to those of pro players, hence our head coach decided that with 1,90m (6’3″) and 94kg (~207 lbs) I’d be needed as a Defensive End. I was a bit disappointed at first that I couldn’t play Linebacker, but I have to say DE is a great and fun position and I wouldn’t have it any other way now.
We spent all of last year training and becoming a team that knows how to play football. This year we registered for league play in our local football association.
We played our first league game on May 5th and won 46:12. Three more matches followed, three more wins. I really dig my team!
I don’t know our player’s average age. My guess is somewhere around 24, maybe less. At age 41 I’m our second oldest player (our ‘grandpa’ is an Offensive Guard who’s 45 now I think). Is the age difference noticable? Hell yeah! I’m neither as strong nor as fast as I’d like to be, and some of our Offensive Tackles make my life miserable on some days. But I also have really good and strong moments, and make some good plays. I didn’t score a sack in a league game yet, but I feel I’m getting there.
The match on that photo went 42:6 in our favor and I had a nice tackle for loss on their Running Back. I love this sport!
I don’t know how long my body will let me continue to play, but I’m having so much fun right now that I have no intention to quit just yet.
Blaugust Reborn is fully underway, and it’s ‘get to know each other week’. So I’m going to talk a little bit about myself today.
I already raved about two of my biggest passions, namely gaming and music, here and here, no need to delve further into those just now. There are some more about which I haven’t talked about at all yet. One of those is American football.
During the mid-nineties I watched quite a lot of American sports on TV, mainly NBA basketball and NFL football. Basketball wasn’t new to me, it’s a popular sport in Germany and I had also played myself at school. Football was indeed something new, and very different. I was fascinated and tried to learn the rules by watching the games attentively.
German TV changed a lot during the following years though, and American sports all but disappeared from the normal broadcasting networks. At best you could watch a weekly show that summarized a whole game week in 30 minutes, or not even that. Germany’s biggest pay-per-month network aired a handful of games per week, but it was expensive and their primary focus was always soccer, which doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Hence football fell off my radar despite my enthusiasm.
Fast forward to September 2015. Lakisa and I were on vacation in California and the surrounding states. You know, LA, San Francisco, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion and so on. The usual stuff tourists do. Whenever we’re in the US we like to watch a bit of american TV in the evening to relax and see what’s up. The selection of available networks varies from hotel to hotel. One evening we had FOX (I believe) and football was on. I was like ‘cool, I haven’t watched football in ages’ and left it on for a while.
I kind of expected Lakisa to ask me to switch channels again at some point. Instead she started asking questions about the game every now and then. Why did they do that? What happened just now? As anybody who knows me can attest I’m more than happy to give a detailed lecture on topics that interest me when given the chance, so I did. Amazingly she didn’t get sick of it, instead asking more questions and generally enjoying herself.
When we came back to the hotel after our next day’s excursion the first thing she asked after showering: is football on today? A fan was born!
When it was time to return home she asked if we’d be able to watch football there. I really didn’t know, so we did some research. Astonishingly a free cable network had just aquired the rights to air two Sunday games live, what a coincidence. We were on fire now though, and two games a week wasn’t enough. So we bought the NFL Game Pass. It was pretty expensive in Europe back then, but we watched so many games that I feel we got our money’s worth. The price has been reduced to a relatively moderate 160€ per year by now, and we have just renewed our subscription for our fourth season in a row.
We haven’t settled on one specific team we’re hardcore fans of, in case you’re wondering. But since watching a game is always more exciting when you’re rooting for either team we picked some that we like more than others. We’re fans of the Cincinnati Bengals (and hence despise the Steelers of course), the Seattle Seahawks and to a lesser extent the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints. After watching the third season of All or Nothing recently I imagine we’ll also have a closer look at the Dallas Cowboys this season, because everyone in that organisation (save Zeke Elliot maybe) seemed very likable to us.
Preseason has already begun, but of course we can’t wait for the regular season to start on September 6th. We’ll be on vacation until September 9th, so we’ll miss the opening game, but we’ll watch at least the first half of Seahawks@Broncos (or maybe rather Cowboys@Panthers?) live in the evening when we’re back home. Can’t wait.
Until then at least I won’t have to do without season football though, because my own team has two more games to play in August.
‘What was that, your own team?’ I hear you ask. ‘Aren’t you, like, too old for that?’