(March 29, 2005) -- The NFL Europe League kicks off its 13th season this Saturday, April 2, with six teams -- the Amsterdam Admirals, Berlin Thunder, Cologne Centurions, Frankfurt Galaxy, Hamburg Sea Devils and Rhein Fire -- beginning the race to World Bowl XIII.
"The NFL Europe League has helped expose our sport to an ever-growing number of football fans around the globe," says NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. "With a terrific mixture of sports and entertainment, NFL Europe has made great progress in establishing itself as a part of the mainstream European sports landscape."
NFL Europe League clubs play a 10-game regular-season schedule beginning Saturday and concluding on Sunday, June 5. The top two teams in the standings will play for the league championship in World Bowl XIII, Saturday, June 11, at the new LTU Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany.
The 2005 NFL Europe League season will mark the first for the Hamburg Sea Devils, who kick off their inaugural season at Cologne. Hamburg replaces the Scottish Claymores.
NFL teams allocated 271 players to NFL Europe in 2005, the most in league history. Among those who hope to help their team to a World Bowl title are Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Akili Smith (Frankfurt Galaxy), Tennessee Titans running back Jarrett Payton (Amsterdam Admirals) and Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Crouch (Hamburg Sea Devils).
The success of NFL Europe veterans in the NFL continued in 2004, as five former Europe Leaguers made the Pro Bowl -- Philadelphia kicker David Akers (Berlin, 1999), Dallas defensive tackle La'Roi Glover (Barcelona, 1997) and guard Marco Rivera (Scotland, 1997), New England kicker Adam Vinatieri (Amsterdam, 1996) and Kansas City guard Brian Waters (Berlin, 2000).
NFL Europe alumni were no strangers to the playoffs in 2004, as 83 took part in the postseason, highlighted by 15 Europe Leaguers on the rosters of Super Bowl XXXIX participants New England and Philadelphia.
The quarterback position has seen its share of NFL Europe standouts excel at the highest level, including the Carolina Panthers' Jake Delhomme, who spent time with Amsterdam and Frankfurt, while helping the 1999 Galaxy to a championship. Former Europe League quarterbacks Kurt Warner (Amsterdam, 1998) and Brad Johsnon (London, 1995) have each guided teams to a Super Bowl title.
In all, 27 former NFL Europe quarterbacks have started for NFL teams.