NFL Europa and the World League – As described by Wikipedia;
NFL Europe was an American football league which operated in Europe from 1991 until 2007. Backed by the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the United States, it was founded as the World League of American Football (WLAF) to serve as a type of spring league. In 1995, when the league was revamped after a two-year hiatus, the league name was shortened to the World League. In 1998, the league rebranded itself as the NFL Europe League or NFL Europe, which it held for most of the rest of its lifetime. For the league’s last season, it would officially change its name to NFL Europa.
The NFL has long tried to figure out how to expand its markets abroad and operate a developmental League for younger players. The two notions were combined into a number of efforts described above but the majority of ownerships struggled to justify the effort and cost of maintaining operations. There were many clubs that benefited from the concept by sending a number of their younger players over for “live game experience” and general overall development. It also served as a teaching platform for aspiring young coaches, many of whom had just finished their own professional football careers.
Statistics have shown the NFL has a shrinking player pool to choose from. Though college football might be at its all-time high in popularity, NFL scouting combines and individual clubs continue to lament the lack of “elite” talent that is being produced from colleges and universities. In some cases it’s a case of just not having the bigger, stronger, fasters on your side. Though the United States is arguably one of the most advanced nations in the world when it comes to organized athletics, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have all the top athletes.
Imagine with unlimited funding and the ability to travel the world, what type of players you might find through International Scouting for the NFL. Instead of taking the game to other continents, why not bring them to us? It’s more about the opportunity, training and coaching than the sheer ability to punt, pass or kick.
- Russians – Linebackers, Defensive Linemen (aggressive, athletic)
- Jamaicans – Wide Receivers (height and speed)
- Czechs & Poles – Offensive & Defensive Linemen (brute strength)
- Germans – Fullbacks (hard headed), Offensive Linemen (regimented), Linebackers (the original Blitzer’s)
- French & Spaniards – Kickers and Punters (don’t like to get hit, penchant for soccer)
- New Zealand & Australia – Running Backs (rugby background)
- British – Tight Ends (height and a bit stiff anyway)
- Japanese – Kickoff and Punt Returners (the original Kamikaze’s)
- Scandinavians – Safeties (size and tend to hang in the back)
- Polynesians – already proven players
One might literally put on an International Scouting Combine that would travel the globe to various regions, testing the world’s athletes for an opportunity to advance in American football. Picture yourself as the next great International scouting guru, finding the likes of Igor Olshansky (Ukraine), Tamba Hali (Liberia), Amobi Okoye (Nigeria), Osi Umenyiora (London/Nigeria), Damian McIntosh (Jamaica), Deuce Lutui (Tonga), Anthony Herrera (Trinidad) or Isaac Sopoaga (Pago Pago, American Samoa).
The Football Educator says all this straddling the fence; somewhat in jest, somewhat dead serious. We’ve already touched upon the importance of checking under every rock to find NFL talent. It only seems a natural off-shoot to expand beyond every border. What about the myriad of opportunities created for bi-lingual coaches? Really, I think we’re on to something here. Much like Major League Baseball has a Director of Scouting – South America, the NFL could have Directors of International Scouting – Europe, Eurasia, the Far East. You could break things up into hemispheres rather than regions, have the annual combine in Switzerland (neutral site). The possibilities are endless!
Right up to the point when you ask them to get in a three point stance and they look at you like you’re speaking a foreign language. International scouting – it could work.