Munich – The hype is real! According to NFL Germany boss Alexander Steinford, there were 250,000 ticket inquiries in the first two days after Munich announced the venue for an NFL season game in 2022. The NFL will also visit Germany in the coming years. Still, games should sell out easily.
Only long-established football fans know: this is the NFL’s second attempt with games in Germany.
From 1990 to 1994 the players in the league played five matches in Germany. Not just regular season games, but pre-season preparation games as well. But at the Berlin Olympic Stadium, the NFL still delivered memorable moments – strange stories.
“Berlin Wall Gone – Rams Wall Number One”
This is mainly thanks to the rise of cable television. This made it possible to follow NFL broadcasts in Europe in the 1980s. Not only in Great Britain in particular, but also in Germany and Scandinavia a fan base quickly formed. The NFL responded by introducing the American Bowl, a forerunner of what later became the International Games.
In these pre-season friendly matches, NFL teams from around the world have competed against each other since 1986. After three events in London, it traveled to Sweden, Japan, Spain and Ireland – first to Berlin in 1990.
On August 11, 1990, before the reunion, the Los Angeles Rams met the Kansas City Chiefs at the Olympic Stadium. In the luggage: World Champion in Whistle. It was one of the attractions of the Tailgate Party before the game in neighboring Myfield.
After a minute of silence for the victims of the Berlin Wall, about 55,000 spectators descended on the business in the square. Favorite Rams maintained the lead at 19: 3. “Berlin Wall Gone – Rams Wall Number One” is aptly inscribed on a fan banner. Rams quarterback Jim Everett said he remembers his trip to Berlin “after fifty years” after the game.
Joe Montana’s last match was a 49 starter
The next year it got even bigger: 66,876 spectators watched the San Francisco 49ers’ duel with their superstars Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice against the Chicago Bears. There was a big whistle here too. This time, however, it was against figure skater Katarina Vitt, who tossed the coin before the match. Witt’s rumors about the SED regime in the GDR gave her a thrill. Although the Bundesliga started its new season on the same day, no stadium in Germany has performed better than this.
After the game, things got even more interesting when Montana was allowed to shoot at the infamous goal wall during a visit to the current gym. Little did NFL fans know at the time: his last game was as a starter for the San Francisco 49ers in Montana, Berlin. Shortly afterwards, a knee injury left him paralyzed for about two seasons. In Berlin, he gave Rice another touchdown pass at 21: 7 against Bears.
Which is the highest scoring game in the series? In Germany
Over the years, Berlin’s quarterback superstars took turns: in 1992, Dan Marino’s Miami Dolphins met John Elway’s Denver Broncos. It was the Dolphins’ 31:27 victory, the highest score in more than 40 American bowl games worldwide. In 1993, the battle between the Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills (20: 6) with 67,132 fans set a new NFL attendance record in Berlin before the curtain fell on the American Bowl Games on August 13, 1994 in Berlin. Finally, the New York Giants beat the San Diego Chargers 28-20.
The American Bowl Series continued until 2005, but did not make a guest appearance in Germany until later, although then – NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue even hinted at the possibility of another German venue at the turn of the millennium: “perhaps for the first time in 2001 in Hamburg, and then shortly in Berlin.”
The Vikings and Bills will meet for the 13th time this Thursday in preseason activity. Their sixth pre-season match was played in Berlin, Germany on August 7, 1993 in front of 67,132 fans as part of the American Bowl Series, and the Vikings won 20-6. #NorseNotes #MINvsBUF pic.twitter.com/BfKAQT9l6v
– Vikings Communications (ikVikingsPR) August 26, 2019
Why the NFL return is going to get bigger
In the end, German fans had to wait more than two decades for the NFL to return. But it will be the best for it. Because, in Berlin, viewers only got a brief glimpse of the biggest stars. In preseason games, backers were given more time to show themselves. In 1992, the then superstar Dan Marino sat on the bench for the entire match at the Olympic Stadium.
The picture in Munich should also be different on the stand. In the early 1990s, countless U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany supported their home country’s athletes at Olympic stadium stands. It was no coincidence that 1990s Chief Linebacker Derrick Thomas’ father was killed in an attack in Vietnam and won a military medal before the game. The GIs on the stand must have given good reception to the military action.
The football boom of 1990? “It will take many years”
Also: although pre-season games at the time were primarily promoted by the NFL Offshoot WLAF, which began primarily in Europe and later in NFL Europe, the main attraction now comes to Germany: regular season games with all players.
In 1990, after the first NFL game in Berlin, Christian Ochoa of Kansas City Chiefs said of the possible football leap in Germany: “It will still take years.” That has been the reality for over 32 years – congratulations on November 13 in Munich.
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