That American football has a devoted fanbase in Europe is no big secret. The demand is so high that the National Football League (NFL) is planning to start a franchise in London. The league already hosts some games overseas, with a November match up between the Dallas Cowboys and the Jacksonville Jaguars sold out at Wembley Stadium.
But the Europeans are no mere couch fans, they have been playing the thoroughly American sport for years, with teams sprinkled all across the continent obsessed with a very different kind of football.
The European Federation of American Football holds a club tournament called “Eurobowl,” and a European Championship, with Germany winning this year’s games in a showdown with Austria. The Federation has 24 member-states, from Austria to Ukraine.
A website called American Football in Europe lists the teams playing on the continent, from Europe’s Big Six to local teams. The names listed are amazing, with some taking cue from regional geography—the Venezia Islanders—some from the local economy—the Antwerp Diamonds—and many inspired by US teams and European history.
Here are some highlights:
A bit of cop-out marketing strategy, many teams go for the alliteration: Lviv Lions (Ukraine), Leipzig Lions (Germany), Hamburg Huskies (Germany), Graz Giants (Austria), Brussels Bulls (Belgium), Berlin Bears (Germany), Cologne Crocodiles and Münster Mammuts (both Germany).
Sixteen teams chose to have the regal-sounding “Lions” in their name, including the Granada Lions (Spain) and the Gliwice Lions (Poland). Fifteen went for the mighty “Warriors” with the Avignon Warriors (France) and the Bologna Warriors (Italy).
America remains the inspiration
We have the Ostrava Steelers (Czech Republic), Zaglebie Steelers (Poland), Dortmund Giants (Germany), Geneva Seahawks (Switzerland), Coventry Jets (United Kingdom), Zagreb Patriots (Croatia), the Budapest Cowboys (Hungary) and the, well, Angers Yankees (France).
But so does European history
A number of team names, especially those in France, are a nod to European monarchy and aristocracy, from the Dresden Monarchs (Germany), The Princes de Montbeilard (France), Nice Dauphins (France) to the Vienna Knights (Austria) and the Paris Mousquetaires (France).
There are a lot of teams named after Crusaders and Invaders, both of which Europe has seen plenty of in its day, but some of the historical references are more clever. The Waterloo Warriors (Belgium) clearly have some sense of humor, with Waterloo being a rhetorical stand-in for epic failure, a reference to Napoleon’s great lost battle near the city. The Hastings Conquerors hopefully never lose.
And some names are just odd
In the Czech Republic you can go see the Brno Pitbulls, in Belgium the Fighting Turtles of Corbais, in Denmark the Amager Demons, the Copenhagen Towers and the Odense Swans.
Because who doesn’t want to see some swans play football?