Interview | College footballer from Frankfurt (Oder)
“Football is the best team sport in the whole world”
The Super Bowl, the final of the American NFL, takes place on Sunday. Football fans and players in this country are also looking forward to it. Among them is Paul Rubelt, who started with the Red Cocks in Frankfurt (Oder) and now plays in the United States.
It’s an event of superlatives: the Super Bowl. The final of the US National Football League (NFL) is being watched by more and more people around the world. According to Hamburg online statistics portal Statista, 2.1 million Germans alone watched the last Super Bowl in February 2021 on television [statista.de].
Also in Germany, players are active in American football, such as the Razorbacks in Erkner (Oder-Spree) or the Red Cocks in Frankfurt (Oder). Football player Paul Rubelt also got his first experiences at Oder. Today he plays for the University of Central Florida (USA) and wants to take the plunge to become an NFL professional.
In an interview with rbb, he talks about how he got into the sport, what excites him so much about it, and about this year’s Super Bowl between the LA Rams finalists and the Cincinnati Bengals.
rbb | 24: Mr. Rubelt, American football is still a niche sport in Germany, although more and more people are following NFL matches here in Germany. How did you get into American football?
Paul Rubelt: It started in 2013 when I was playing flag football [American Football. ohne Körperkontakt, Anm.d.Red.; Infos bei rc-ffo.de] started. At that time, I went to my home team, the Red Cocks in my home in Frankfurt (Oder), and trained there. And then I fell in love with the sport.
In 2015, I was promoted to the youth team. It was there, contact football, so-called tackle football, really started – from then on I developed very positively. Then I went to America as an exchange student for a year where I also played football. Björn Werner and his organization Gridiron Imports then became aware of me through recommendation from my former coaches Dan Kohn and Andy Lange and asked me if I would like to come to America to present myself at a training camp there. There I was offered scholarships and decided to go to the University of Central Florida.
And what excites you about American football? What makes the sport so special?
There are many things that excite me, but most of all, that football is the best team sport in the world. That’s what others say, like our new head coach Gus Malzahn. But I’ve always said that before, and I’ll stick to it: for me, it’s the best team sport because no other sport is so multifaceted. Every position is so incredibly important. If a block is not set correctly, the entire game is wasted. The team that has to work properly together – that’s the best thing about it for me. I also like the clash. It is fun.
What is it like to play in an American college? Is the picture from the American movies correct that all the students are chasing the football players?
There are so many things that excite me here. The team spirit, but also the school spirit, like thousands of students here cheering on you. This is indescribable. And yes, we train a lot, we almost only go out in our training clothes. Then all the male and female students will see that you are a football player and they will look at you and whisper. Yes, they are already running … (laughs)
Is it a big pressure to have to meet so many expectations? What are your chances of becoming a professional?
Yes, the pressure is particularly high on everyone on the team. First and foremost, you need to grab your starting spot. It will be decided again in the spring at the Spring Bowl, a training camp, which will be on the starting lineup for the fall. I have to say that my outlook is relatively good this year.
My plan A is always 100 percent to be promoted to the NFL. I always say to myself: I’m a college athlete, that’s the direct way to get into the NFL. If I do not manage it, I have a plan B. I will then go in the direction of an athletic trainer or physiotherapist so I could get very close to the sport.
The NFL announced on Wednesday that from this year they also want regular season matches, ie the main round, played in Germany. What does this decision as a German mean to you? Are we NFL eligible at all?
This is a step in the right direction. It is absolutely fantastic for the German football community.
When I look at football from an understanding of the game’s perspective, Germany is far below American college standards and worlds away from the NFL. There are simply no resources for that. In America, a lot more money is being spent on it. When I think about what a football match would look like in a stadium in Germany, in a German football arena, I would say: the atmosphere will be very different there.
Sunday is the Super Bowl, the final of the American NFL. What does this mean for an active football player like you? How do you view the event and who do you prefer?
It is, of course, the biggest sporting event of the year here in the United States. We usually hold a small food party (laughs). Two weeks ago at the playoffs, we fried burgers and saw ten people on a big screen. Many people look at themselves at home. But there are also public views in various bars.
This year, just different teams came to the Super Bowl. Personally, this is what I love most about the Super Bowl: Both teams would deserve to win the trophy. I’m more pro LA Rams because Joe Burrow [Quarterback der Cincinnati Bengals, Anm. d. Red.] still has many years left and will reach the Super Bowl again. However, my favorite team is without a doubt Red Cocks – they will always be my alma mater where I come from.
Do you come to Germany regularly, or do you not miss anything here?
I went there for the first time in two years for Christmas. It feels good to come home. And of course: When you are so far away, you miss a few things. Mostly German cuisine. But after those two weeks, I was happy again to come to America. Because football is such a big part of my life that I feel like I can not do without the sport.
Thank you for the interview.
Broadcast: Antenna Brandenburg, afternoon antenna, 11 February 2022, at 15.10
The interview was conducted by Martin Krauß, rbb-Studio Frankfurt (Oder).
The Super Bowl LVI of the 2021/2022 NFL season takes place on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood near Los Angeles at 3:30 p.m. local time. The finalists are the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams. Kickoff is at 12.30 German time.