Well this past weekend we had camp in Germany. It was a fun experience overall and was also my first time in Germany. Everyday I stay up late surfing on the net and messing around and usually don't go to sleep until 1 or 2 am (European time). Our plane to Germany left on Friday morning at 6:30 which meant that we had to be up and stirring around 4:30. Since I have gotten into a small routine with my hours it was difficult for me to go to be early so I only got like 2 1/2 hours of sleep the night before we left. We were scheduled to land, check-in, eat lunch, then have the first of 2 practices for the day. I knew it would be a long and tiresome day with the sleep I got, but nevertheless I was still excited.
On the way to the airport I saw around 20 deer just standing out in the middle of fields over here. I don't know if its not season over here or if hunting is not a big sport, but the deer were sure out. I also saw some tree house style deer stands which reminded me of back home. We flew out of a different airport than the first one I flew into. This one was much smaller and it would be pushing it by a long shot to say that this was a maximum security airport. After we got our tickets we had to exchange money so that we could buy stuff in Germany. This can get aggravating sometimes. Could you imagine having to exchange money every time you wanted to buy something in NC? It's not the same, but similar. I think the flight cost less than 100 $ per person as well. Also, our whole team didn't go. I think we missed a few guys due to various reasons.
After 1 1/2 hours we landed in Frankfurt Germany into another small airport. This airport, as well, did not hassle you much either while traveling. I didn't even get a stamp in my passport book that says Germany so I was a bit upset. Upon landing it was obvious that it was much warmer than back in Sweden. Over the weekend the whole team got sun burned. The heat reminded me of home, minus the humidity. During practices there was talk of being dehydrated, but I was thinking to myself these guys have no idea. We took about an hour and a half bus trip from the airport to the hotel in Russelheim. Along the way I noticed that Germany is very green and the scenery is somewhat hilly with a lot of farming going on. I saw another deer and another tree house stand there in Germany as well . It was like dejavu 2 hours later, but yet in another country. They also had these big windmill turbine things in the middle of some fields. The kind where the wind blows and they make power. They were pretty big. On the way from the airport we passed Wes Baiten (spelling) Army Base. This is an American Army Base in Germany. It was pretty big and sat right off the highway. I believe I have some friends who have been there and told me about it. Seeing a road sign that said anything about the US was weird. I couldn't help but to think about Neil over in Iraq when I saw the base, wondering what was going on at that time and all.
Then we finally arrived in Russelheim and to our hotel. The hotel was nice and had an internet station and sauna as well. Yes I did throw more loylu. Somebody had thrown in some eucalyptus in the loylu too so I , again, had flashbacks of Finland. After we all checked in we walked down the street to get a bite to eat and wouldn't you know it that sitting right there was a Super Wal-Mart with a McDonald's on the inside. Now though it was a Super Wal-Mart it wasn't as big as the ones at home and did not carry as many different products, but the set up was pretty much similar. I did return and take my camera to get this sight documented. I also noticed a sign that stuck out to my eyes that I got a pic of. I remember seeing this sign in Switzerland as well. That would be the " ausfahrt " sign. It stands for Exit. In Sweden they are called " utfart " and I have seen them just haven't gotten a chance to get them on camera, but now I have spoiled it so who knows. On a side note, over the weekend I also noticed that many of the buildings and houses in Germany are made out of either stucco or concrete and that the water has a weird aftertaste to it.
After we ate we went back and got ready for practice. We had a half-pads practice at 2 and then came back that evening and had a joint-team practice with the team from Russelheim. They are called the Russelheim Razorbacks. There practice and game field sat right beside a river and was obviously close to another airport because these huge planes kept flying over all day long and huge barges kept going down the river. Both practices went well, but we did have a lineman to get hurt during some of the drills so that wasn't good. Their practice field left a little to be desired, but they did have a nice game field. After both practices we went back to the hotel and got some food then just messed around for a while before going to bed. The next day, Saturday, we had a morning practice @ 10 then we ate lunch together with the other team at the field. After lunch we all just kind of laid around for about 45 minutes then we had a controlled scrimmage. It was weird having lunch with the other team and all like that because the two teams talked and hung out, even did drills together, and helped each other out with football fundamentals. This was unique because I was thinking there would be some tension, rivalry, or " non-communication " in between the teams since we were about to scrimmage them, but it wasn't like that at all. The other team had one coach from Canada and one coach from Washington State. The majority of the people in Germany, like Sweden, spoke English well.
As far as the scrimmage .... it was a controlled scrimmage in the fact that the Qb's were not live and each team only got 5 plays on then we switched sides of the ball. Our team did well and got better as the day went. It was tough to score in only 5 plays when you have 70 to 80 yards to go, but I think we scored once and the other team did as well. It was difficult to sustain a drive. I played decent, but did not throw any Td's or interceptions. You could tell from watching the other team that their guys were drilled on their defensive schemes and techniques. They were showing one thing, then rolling to another. They had some good athletes on their team, but I thought we hung in there well with them. I had to scramble a lot and throw on the run. We still have some work to do on our " hot reads " on offense, but we are getting there and hopefully we will have everything clicking well here soon. Here is a pic of both teams after the scrimmage. My team is the red team and I wore # 12 this weekend. You can see how the teams are integrated here rather than each on his own side and the coaches were even standing side by side. This is an example of what I was just mentioning.
After the scrimmage we all went back to the hotel again and took showers. We were in a hurry because we were late for the " power party " , which is basically a big tail-gating event before the NFLEurope game that we went to. We saw the aftermath of the power party though and I will say that it looked like they had a good time there. We watched the Frankfurt Galaxy play against the Rhein Fire. Both teams were 2 - 0 coming into the game so it was a pretty hyped up game. I was interested in seeing the Qb play in this game as well. I believe there were 27,000 people on hand and it was weird to be in that environment with nothing but other languages that I couldn't understand going on. They say that American players make up 80 % of the NFLEurope teams. The Rhein Fire had a hyped up Qb named Chad Hutchinson, who was the Qb for the Dallas Cowboys last year. I was not that impressed with his play in the game, but he was under a lot pressure from the defense too. When they brought the lefty in he moved the team down the field. I was flipping through this game day program (which was in German) and was looking at the rosters to see if I would recognize anybody. They didn't list the schools that the guys came from so that made it difficult, but when I was reading the names for the starting o-line I came across a name that stuck out to me. Kevin Breedlove was right there in front of me playing right guard the whole night and I didn't pick up on it until about the 3rd quarter. Kevin Breedlove played at Daniel High School in Daniel South Carolina and went on to play at University of Georgia. I'm pretty sure that we graduated in the same year as well. This was also weird. The Frankfurt Galaxy ended up winning the game which was good for the home town I guess. They do it up just like an NFL game. I mean they have 3 sets of cheerleaders/dance girls, TV timeouts, American referees, mascots, loud music, did the wave, and a jumbo tron. The fans were in all purple because that's the Galaxy's color and I was surprised at their support for their team. I did take my camera to the game and get some footage of the game. The only thing that I could say that was different was that the fans were blowing whistles the whole time. I don't know if it's illegal to bring a whistle and blow it at a game in America, but I don't think I have ever heard anyone actually do it. These fans were blowing on them the whole time. Our guys had a good time at the game to say the least. We got on the jumbo tron 3 times during the game because our section was so crunk. We had a few guys leading some chants for the crowd. Some of our guys were so hype that they had drunken Germans doing Swedish cheers for the Galaxy. Neither them, nor I, had a clue what they were saying, but I did pick up on one cheer. It goes Bira, Bira, Bira, ...Bärs, Bärs, Bärs...................Bira......Bärs and so on. I think it has something to do with beer, but for whatever reason they were sure yelling it a lot.
I wore my shirt that said " Suomi " to the game. Suomi means Finland...in Finnish of course. Well some guy came down there and asked me if I spoke English and I was like yes of course. Turned out that he was from Texas and was playing ball in Europe too. I think he said in Switzerland. I didn't know they played in Switzerland, but whatever. He had seen my shirt on the Jumbo Tron ( 1 of the 3 times that we were on it mind you ) and came down to our section because he had played in Finland a few years back. He played for the Roosters though so I did let him know that they were de-throned as of last season.
Here are some pics from the game: (notice the beer guy who frequented our section with the latest technology in beer dispensing and Germans take a lot of pride in their beer I learned)
After the game some of the guys went back to the hotel. As I was walking one of the guys asked me if I was going out and I told him that I didn't have any plans basically because I didn't even know where I was and I was an American in a foreign country, which these days puts you at a disadvantage. He was like don't worry I know where to go and I will get us back. So I thought to myself...ok this could be the only time I'll be in Germany so I might as well see what its like and after all Coach just said be there by the time the bus leaves. After the night was over I was glad that I decided to go out with the guys too because we had a good time. We went to a place called the " Halli Balli " or something close to that. It was a nice place that played good music and it was big. When you first walk in they take a picture of you and hand you a card. Anytime you buy anything you slide your card and then when you leave you scan your card and pay for whatever you ran up. I got out of there for around 9 euros. Some of the Galaxy players came in there later on. You could tell they thought they owned the place too. I spoke with a few of them, but it was just " what's up", where you from " type of stuff. I also spoke Spanish with some girls from Portugal, which was neat. After this we got a cab back to the hotel and when we got there everyone was eating breakfast. We just filed right in line and ate then I went and took a shower and we all got on the bus and headed for the airport. I was knocked out for this whole ride and then we did it all again and ended back up in Sweden around 9 am. So that was a pretty long day for me. I went to sleep at like 5 pm and just woke up at 10 am today.
Below are some pictures that one of the guys on the team was nice enough to email to me .....for your viewing pleasure that is...lol
A view out of the windo over Denmark
A view right before we landed in Germany
Me and Pearlan
Hasse och Oliver
The pre-scrimmage coin toss
NFL Europe game pics
We were on TV at the game
After the game the players thanked the fans