American Football is thriving all over the world, especially in Europe. To help develop the sport and keep competition at a high level, American players are “imported” onto club teams in various capacities. These players get paid to play the game they love while seeing the world and experience different cultures. The Reus Imperials American import quarterback, Brady Huber, allowed me a detailed interview about his experiences in Europe.
How many years have you played in Europe/overseas?
This is my second season.
Which team was your best experience?
This is tough because I have enjoyed both teams for different reasons. Both teams have had success and I have connected with both teams differently. I enjoyed the deeper knowledge of football in Germany. But I enjoy teaching the guys in Spain the details that come with playing football.
Which country was your best experience?
Again this is tough because I lived in a small town in Germany and a bigger city in Spain. I got to know almost everyone in the small town in Germany and really connected with a lot of people outside of the team. More people spoke English in Germany so it was fairly easy to get around the town as well. In Spain, I live in a bigger area so there are more things to do in the city. What I like about Spain is the different bars and clubs we can go to, but also just going to the beach to hangout. I have had great experiences in both places, just for different reasons.
How did you get here? What’s your football journey?
Only played 2 years of football in 5th and 6th grade (Baseball was my first love). My freshman year of High School the coach asked me if I was interesting in playing quarterback. I was a fullback and tightend before, so quarterback was definitely different. I switched from a triple-I formation scheme my freshman year to the spread offense the next 3 years in High School. Then college was a fast tempo spread where we threw the ball a ton. I’m definitely not known for my running ability anywhere I have played. This is mainly the reason why High School, College, and both seasons in Europe, the offense I have been in has been one of the top passing teams in the conference/league. I got to Europe by talking to an old roommate that played for the Kirchdorf Wildcats 3 years ago and he said they were looking for a quarterback and that sparked my interest even though I had a great job lined up in ticket sales for a baseball team. The experience, relationships, and ability to travel I have gotten in Europe has been worth way more than a couple years of work.
How do you like it in Spain?
It has been a nice experience having a laid back culture and practicing the language I learned in High School. I’m still not too good at speaking Spanish, but it’s fun practicing it. The people have been nice and being near a beach is always fun.
How do you like the People in Spain?
They have been nice and for the most part forgiving of our bad Spanish. At the gym, restaurants, clubs, or anywhere else we need to go, they usually understand how bad we are at Spanish and try to help us as much as possible. We have met a lot of people just hanging out in the city center, and it has been nice getting to know them.
What is your go to meal in Spain?
Some sort of seafood is always a must. Being 15 minutes from the coast the seafood is always fantastic.
Do you spend a lot of time with teammates or on your own/with other imports?
A TON of time with them. 2 Europeans (German and Finnish) and 2 other guys from the States (North California and Philadelphia). We are all different, but it has been very fun getting to know the guys. We have a Wednesday night bowling tradition and we always make it a competition obviously. Us Americans also love debating on the hottest sports topics that come up and as usual we never come to an agreement haha.
What level would you compare the football played there to in the United States?
Every country in Europe is different and imports make a huge difference on a team as well. If a team has more imports, they are usually a better overall team and have continued success. In Germany, I would compare the quality to lower NCAA Division III on average. Some of the better teams, normal NCAA Division III teams. In Spain, I would say a little lower, like High School for the most part. I always say it is the discrepancy between the best European players and the worst European players. In Germany, a few of my German teammates ended up going to play and start at colleges in the States (NCAA Division III and NAIA). But some of the other European players would not be able to play even in High School.
What do you see as some of the biggest differences between football in the states compared to Europe/Spain?
Differences obviously is level of play and practice time (which I believe go hand in hand). Teams cannot expect to play at a high level only practicing 2 times a week. Also, quality coaches are hard to come by with every team. I have been lucky to be on teams with good coaching and an understanding of football. Game promotion is also a big thing in the communities for the teams I have been on.
How have you personally helped your teammates and coaches develop their American Football knowledge during your time abroad?
A big thing with me is footwork. No matter the position, quarterback, wide receiver, offensive/defensive line, the first step is huge. In Spain, I have definitely tried to get the guys to understand where the ball is going, and how their first step can make or break their block. Also, if a coach has more experience in line work, I would try to help them on experience from a skill position. Having them understand what blocking scheme goes with what route combination, when and where to take chances, etc. I have just tried to help anyway I possibly could. I definitely learned in my 2nd season that you can’t make a guy play like an American in one week. It takes time, time, time. We always need to learn more.
What are your plans after the season concludes?
I have accepted a Graduate Assistant position at Lindenwood University near St. Louis and will be completing my master’s degree.
Can you recall an interesting story of your experience in Europe?
Way too many experiences I could talk about. But one in Germany is that we had a flood in our little town of about 10,000 people. Countless homes and businesses lost in a matter of seconds. But the weeks after of cleaning up and seeing the entire community come together to help complete strangers was so cool. The flood happened early in the week and we didn’t even practice that week and we had a game on Saturday. We had a walk through on Friday and just talked about the game plan. Everyone was exhausted but we felt closer than ever as a team. We came out like a different team and played together extremely well and it was such a cool experience for me and the other imports there.
What advice would you give to someone playing football in Europe/overseas for the first time?
Go in with an open mind. Don’t expect it to be like the NFL or even college. Almost all the players and coaches have other full-time jobs. You are there to play, coach, and just have fun in the culture. Europe is one of the coolest places I have been. Go a few hours in any direction and you could be in a completely different culture. Travel as much as you can and meet as many people as you can. I know I will always have a European family and that is a cool feeling.
Can you sum up what American Football means to you?
I started as a boy and ended up a man ready to make an impact on my family, friends, and those I work with.