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New Berlin Patriots fan club enthusiasm grows even more with German players' successes

The New Berlin Patriots have been a solid fan club for nearly 15 years. 

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During media availability, local reporters hop on a WebEx call to ask Patriots players questions about the upcoming matchup and the news of the week. When the reporters from the greater Boston area are done, so is the press conference for most Patriots players.

But not for Jakob Johnson.

After fielding questions from local media, Johnson flips a switch from English to German, taking questions from reporters in his home country. Johnson was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent through the NFL's International Player Pathway program.

However, Johnson's ascendence to the NFL isn't an introduction to Patriots football to fans in Germany. In fact, it's only enhanced an already thriving community of Patriots football fanatics in the country.

Enter the New Berlin Patriots fan club. Since 2007, this dedicated club has been thriving in the eastern part of Germany, and with Johnson and players like Sebastian Vollmer and Markus Kuhn making their impression on the franchise, it's made cheering for their team even sweeter.

The club's president, Dirk Salfemeier, said many of their members remember Johnson's days with the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League.

"It´s a great honor for a German player to stay in a starting part of a team like the Patriots. His role this year is so amazing to see and it fills us German fans with great pride," Salfemeier said. "Wonderful as that [is], despite all the hype and success, he seems to have remained the 'old JJ.'"

To be an NFL fan outside of the United States means fully committing to your team, and Salfemeier said the New Berlin Patriots fan club is "a bunch of very crazy people" who will go to extreme lengths to see their team -- even if it means staying up all night.

"We have an evening game for the Patriots? This is a night shift for us," he said. "Nevertheless, we meet for the common game watching in some people's homes or in the pub. Many of us watch the night games, freshen up and go straight to work."

Despite the time difference, the NFL is thriving in Germany. For Salfemeier, having German players make it in the NFL has only helped interest in the game continue to grow.

"It is a matter of time that teams like the Patriots are recognizing the potential in German Football players in the last years," he said. "This is a great development. In Germany, especially for young players in the youth sector, this fact shows that it is worth the effort to come to training every time and give everything. They all dream the dream of a career in high school, college or the NFL."

While the pandemic cancelled all games for the 2020 German Football League, there was reprieve for football fans when the NFL decided to carry on with its season with added precautionary protocols.

In a year that has been necessarily isolated, groups like the New Berlin Patriots have helped keep people connected. They have created a community of like-minded fans, staying in touch over social media and video chats instead of their usual pub.

No matter what the season looks like or how the franchise changes, Salfemeier made one thing clear: they are a family and the Patriots are the common bond.

To create your own Patriots fan club, you can visit the home page here.

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