NFL: Austria before the turning point in the NFL

With Toni Fritsch, Toni Linhart and Ray Wersching, three local athletes became involved as kickers in the NFL in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1987/88 season, Wersching was the last Austrian to play in a competitive match. With Sandro Platzgummer (New York Giants) and Bernhard Seikovits (Arizona Cardinals), two Austrian athletes are currently in the training squad for NFL teams, but their chances of playing are unequal with Raimann, who is a college player in the United States. established.

“He fulfills a vision I mentioned ten or 15 years ago, namely that we get an Austrian in the NFL,” said Michael Eschlböck, president of the local football association AFBÖ. His counterpart in Raimann’s home club Dacia Vienna Vikings, Karl Wurm, stated to “Bernhard is not pure luck, there is also a system and seriousness behind it. First and foremost, it is the player’s honor, but he also took advantage of all the opportunities that were offered to him. “


So far, only Austrian kickers have played in the NFL, just like Toni Fritsch here for the Dallas Cowboys

Raimann actually took advantage of every opportunity. It was not until he was 13 years old that he first became involved in football. Before the first training session with the Vikings, the reluctant Steinbrunner would initially turn around. He went so much more aggressively to the formative exchange school year in the United States to eventually receive the crucial scholarship at Central Michigan University (CMU) and to position himself crucially for the NFL for the four years that followed.

“It’s about willpower”

Before that, he graduated from Vienna Ballsportgymnasium in 2017 as the best of the year. Raimann initially started his career as a wide receiver, became a tight end and first switched to offensive tackling two years ago – at the beginning of the CoV pandemic. Of course, this special story also pleases the experts abroad, who primarily see it within the first three rounds of their draft forecasts. Raimann said just last week at a media event about this unreal path: “It depends on the willpower.”

Bernhard Raimann (Central Michigan, 76)

AP / Butch Dill

As an offensive tackle, Raimann came through college to the NFL

Raimann, who practices great modesty, knows where he comes from. “Playing in Austria helped me a lot as a player, but mostly as an athlete. I now know that the Vikings have a great program, just like the others like the Danube Dragons and Swarco Raiders. The foundation helped me a lot to be able to change position. ”

Opportunities used with all “seriousness”.

In recent years, Austrians like the no less determined Platzgummer and Seikovits have come close to NFL appearances, but no one has come as close as Raimann. He is considered a solid starter for the upcoming season. This sometimes has banal causes that can not be affected, such as body measurements but also others. “His seriousness,” said Viking President Wurm succinctly.

“One quickly recognizes a tower emperor, a very talented player who is not willing to work hard enough to not only win the tower race, but to go beyond it. And there are those who say it’s up to me “Says Wurm, who remembers an unobtrusive young player who” but worked when needed. “

Karl Wurm, President of the Vikings in Vienna Kastler

Proud Viking president: Karl Wurm is happy for Raimann, who started his career in Vienna-Simmering

Wurm highlights the possibilities of the Vikings, such as the 365-day-long gym and the collaboration with the Viennese ball sports high school, which NBA pioneer Jakob Pöltl also attended.

Several Austrians are squeezing into the NFL

Raimann turned to football, but always remained realistic. “I still remember when we sat together before his exchange year. He did not go over to being an NFL pro. It would not have been him. He said he sees what he can achieve there, ”said Wurm, whose team is also at a turning point in participating in the European League of Football (ELF) for the first time.

Leonel Misangumukini, who, like Platzgummer and Seikovits, is trying to get into the NFL via the International Pathway Program, says of his former teammate: “He has a work ethic, attention to detail, which was crucial after the change of position. He stayed seated and has the mental strength it matters. At Vikings, expectations are high, there is healthy pressure. ”

If Misangumukini is also awarded a place on a team after the draft, four Austrians could be under contract in the 2022 season. “It’s evolving more and more in the right direction that the Austrians are coming to the NFL via different avenues,” Raimann is also happy. Not only does Platzgummer represent the successful Tyrolean football field, Christoph Henle also has four years with the Baylor Bears at the highest college level behind him.

Domestic addition to US major leagues

For now, Raimann is in the spotlight, which also pleases his compatriot Pöltl. “Like me, it will hopefully trigger a wave in him and maybe make one or the other Austrian a football fan who may not have had much to do with the sport before.” Pöltl is also hoping for growth, Vorarlberger Luka Brajokvic showed up at college and was inducted into the National Basketball Association (NBA).

In ice hockey, Austria has been represented in the National Hockey League (NHL) since 2001 and should continue to be so in the future thanks to Marco Rossi. Only in baseball is there still no sign of a successor who could follow in the footsteps of Kurt Krieger (1949 to 1951, St. Louis Cardinals, note) as the second legionary in Major League Baseball (MLB). But the example of Raimann also gives hope here.

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