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Even Without NFL Europe, American Football Remains an “Addiction” for Fans Abroad

July 20th, 2013 at 7:45 AM
By Jen Polashock

American football really has no boundaries and as each week passes, we learn that fans are born all over the globe — from just one taste of the game. These shared stories just so happen to come from non-US soil and are a bit rawer as compared to stateside and widely-publicized NFL “news.” There is an eventual point to these shared installments; just not sure when we will get there.

'P4100173' photo (c) 2005, Michael Welsing - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Giants 101 will, for now, stay in the Netherlands as we visit with Danny Jansen who is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan (and admittedly, anti-anything Manning). His story begins decades ago, in 1984 in Rotterdam. Apparently, then, the Sky Channel (sports) was on Rotterdam cable. Every Sunday afternoon, he would watch an NFL game from the week prior. This lasted only two years, unfortunately. In 1988, he happened to see a flyer of a game (played the day before in Rotterdam) and realized then that football was not only in Rotterdam, but they had an actual team as well. Excited to have learned that there was a football team in Rotterdam, he joined for the first practice two weeks later and was hooked on the game from there.

The Giants aren’t the only team with players affected by injuries. They caused some speed bumps for Jansen, but he played with the Rotterdam Trojans from that moment on (1988) through the 1995 season. His best memories have come from playing for the Dutch National Team in 1991 and then in a European game with the Trojans in 1995 against the Birmingham Bulls. He followed some friends who started a new team halfway the next season (he had to take a break due to a dislocated shoulder) only to end his active/player career in 1997 by dislocating that shoulder for the third time. At least it wasn’t an ACL…just kidding; Big Blue humor.

He claims that loving the game too much made him decide to take up coaching (“after a mourning period of a year”). Oddly enough, that’s when he realized that having played the game for so many years is not enough to know how to coach. Interesting epiphany. In October of 1998, he was invited by the Nebraska Huskers (by telephone) to spend two weeks with their coaching staff to learn more about coaching there. That was followed by another two weeks in the coach’s observation program of NFL Europe in March of 2000 in Tampa, FL. He always coached defensive line, but sometimes combined that with the task of actual defensive coordinator. He was “promoted” in the seasons 2007-2009 when he was head coach of the juniors in Rotterdam — a job he claimed was “a very fulfilling task, but quite an energy draining exercise as well…having to work a fulltime job and spend time with the family as well.” This caused him to take another break from football, but it never left his mind. Literally.

“Still, football isn’t a game, it is an addiction. So, when I got the chance to join a game show on television in which you could win your dream I asked Joost [VandenBogert] to come along and we won a two-week trip to Boise State, where we were able to join the Broncos during spring practice and brush up our football knowledge as well as to learn more about weights and foods. I am still in touch with the dietician of the Broncos, Hilary Horton-Brown, who keeps us in the loop if there are new developments in the field of nutrition for athletes”, he said.

At this moment, Danny is on another sabbatical from football, but only “to enhance his chances in the labor market”, as he is currently: about to finish an Executive MBA (graduating mid-December) and writing his final thesis for the Dutch National Olympic Committee (sports nut, indeed). Best of luck!

By the way, our Giants shall see your Steelers opening day of preseason for both teams, sir. May both side come out healthy of that Big Blue win.

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Tags: Football, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers

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5 Responses to “Even Without NFL Europe, American Football Remains an “Addiction” for Fans Abroad”

  1.  Mihnea Trancu says:

    Talking about love of the game:
    Somewhere in the outskirts of Bucharest, Romania 2 winters ago, on a Lambeau Field kind of cold, a local team named Bucharest Predators was set to meet a Bulgarian team. They were using a soccer field and they came 3 hours before the kick- off so that, with the help of a few friends would mark the field from 10 to 10 yards. They put long poles on top of the soccer posts. They brought a computer and some speakers to announce the play by play during the game for the people gathered there and for the halftime entertainment (some Metallica songs and hip- hop songs).

    •  Jen Polashock says:

      See. THAT is love of the game. Thanks for sharing that. I’d love to hear more…

      •  Mihnea Trancu says:

        I do have some more stories (and pictures), as I followed the evolution of this sport in Romania since 2007, and see the guys playing this game from pure passion. Spending their personal savings for equipment, traveling expenses, the cost of the playing field rental and everything else that was needed. There is no Federation to help them. In Europe a Federation is the Association that organizes the competition… Until this year American Football as we call it here, was not even officially a recognized sport.
        I also have some stories as a Giants fan..somewhere in an office in Bucharest there is a framed picture of Eli holding the Lombardi Trophy. :)

    •  TheCatch says:

      Great story, and yes thanks for sharing.

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