On June 29, 2007, the National Football League (NFL) released a statement announcing the end of NFL Europa after operating from 1991-1992, 1995-2007 as the NFL’s developmental league. Since then, various leagues and competitions such as the BIG6 European Football League, European Football League, Eastern European Super League, and Central European Football League (CEFL) have attempted to help fill the void, but none have been as successful as NFL Europa.
This upcoming summer, the European League of Football (ELF) will bring the game back to the continent. For their first season, the ELF will consist of eight teams, six of which are in Germany. The Wroclaw Panthers, formerly of the CEFL are the lone team from Poland and have been around since 2013. Another established team joining the ELF is the Stuttgart Scorpions who have been a presence in German football since December of 1982. Two more German teams have revealed their branding, the Hanover based German Knights 1367 and Ingolstadt Praetorians will also be in the league. The final four teams have yet to finalize their names, but will be based in cities that were homes to past NFL Europa Teams — Berlin, Germany; Hamburg, Germany; Frankfurt, Germany; and Barcelona, Spain. League owners SEH Sports & Entertainment Holding have filed trademarks for the Berlin Thunder and Hamburg Sea Devils. As for the teams in Frankfort and Barcelona, there is some speculation around potential team names, though no trademarks have been filed.
Thirteen years ago senior vice president of NFL International Mark Waller said the following when the closing of NFL Europa was announced: “NFL Europa has created thousands of passionate fans who have supported that league and our sport for many years and we look forward to building on this foundation as we begin this new phase of our international development.” Maybe, the best way for the sport to develop overseas is for the Europeans to do it all themselves.