From Academic Kids
NFL Europe was originally founded in the spring of 1991 as the World League of American Football. The original WLAF was an American football league partially backed by the National Football League and, like the current NFL Europe, was a spring developmental league. Originally, the ancestor to NFL Europe had 10 teams: six American teams, three European teams, and one Canadian team. The top two teams in the World League of American Football met at the end of the season in the World Bowl.
The original WLAF was less than popular in the United States, and only marginally more so in Europe, and suspended operations in 1993 prior to the season. However, the National Football League still liked the idea of a spring developmental league, and after revamping itself into an exclusively European circuit, the World League was formed. World League, re-launched in 1995, consisted of the 3 existing European teams from the original format as well as 3 new teams. In 1998, the World League changed its name to NFL Europe.
The NFL Europe era has been beset by instability. The England Monarchs (previously the London Monarchs) were shut down after the 1998 season, being replaced by the Berlin Thunder. In 2002, the Barcelona Dragons became an official section of FC Barcelona, adopting the name FC Barcelona Dragons, but folded after the 2003 season when Barça dropped its sponsorship. A new German franchise, the Cologne Centurions, took the Dragons' place in the league in 2004. The Scottish Claymores, one of the 3 teams added to the league in 1995, were also discontinued with their replacements (Hamburg Sea Devils) being established for the 2005 season. With this change, presently five of the six teams are from Germany, with one from the Netherlands, leading some of the league's detractors to refer to it as 'NFL Deutschland' or 'NFL Germany'. German teams also won 7 consecutive Championships between 1998 and 2004. While the sport of American football is relatively new to Europe, the apparent popularity of the league and the sport in Germany is, at this point, undeniable.
Players in NFL Europe are predominantly assigned by NFL teams who want these younger, "developmental" players to get additional game experience and coaching. The expenses of these players and their coaches while living in Europe are assumed by the league.
Rules unique to NFL Europe included assigning increasing point value to field goals based on length, and a requirement that at least one player of European extraction participate in at least every other series of downs.
World League of American Football (1991-1992)
- Birmingham Fire
- New York/New Jersey Knights
- Ohio Glory (Columbus, Ohio) (1992 only)
- Orlando Thunder
- Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks (1991 only)
- Sacramento Surge
- San Antonio Riders
NFL Europe (1995-present)
- Scottish Claymores (Glasgow, previously Edinburgh) (1995-2004)
- Barcelona Dragons (1995-2001 as Barcelona Dragons; known as FC Barcelona Dragons in 2002-2003 while affiliated with FC Barcelona)
- London Monarchs (1995-1998)
NOTE: In 1998, the London Monarchs were known as the England Monarchs and played home games in London, Bristol and Birmingham. Also, although the Glasgow-based franchise was called Scotland in box scores, its official name was Scottish Claymores.
- NFL Europe website: http://www.nfleurope.com
- Private Page about the original WLAF: http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/1871/