Colorful CFL coach Jeff Reinebold recalls his football ‘missionary work’ in NFL Europe
The future is global. It's a sentiment that has been expressed by all the major sports leagues and after decades lagging behind the rest, American football is developing at an unprecedented rate internationally. More...

The future is global.

It's a sentiment that has been expressed by all the major sports leagues and after decades lagging behind the rest, American football is developing at an unprecedented rate internationally. More international players are playing college than ever before, the CFL is providing opportunities for a new wave of global talent, and the NFL continues to seek out its own rough diamonds through the International Player Pathway program, all will be professional games and academics are reaching new heights.

The final frontier of recruiting and screening is overseas, but although it is uncharted territory for most, Jeff Reinebold has seen it all. As the senior director of international player development for the NFL in Europe in 2004, the famous CFL coach can remember a world football landscape very different from what we see today.

"Football in Germany was not developed back then and football in England really flourished in the 80s, but then passed the top, so we were really trying to bring it back," he says. about the landscape that awaited the NFL Development League. . “The Scandinavian countries were just getting strong, Denmark was strong. It differed from country to country. "

Jeff Reinebold observing Hamilton Tiger-Cats practice

Looking back more than a decade after its fall in 2007, NFL Europe has left an indelible mark on the international football landscape and Reinebold was right at the forefront. Although the league was formed as the World American Football League in 1991-92, Reinebold was first exposed to international experience as a special teams coordinator for the Rhein Fire during their revival in 1995. under the name of NFL. Over the next decade, Reinebold will be in and out of the league, coaching again with Rhein from 1999 to 2000, with Amsterdam from 2001 to 2003 and eventually led the scouting load in 2004. He has always been involved in the game abroad. since and still serves as an analyst for SkySports in the UK, a role he took over in NFL Europe.

“I believe that all of us in professional football have a responsibility to develop the game,” says Reinbold. “To evolve the game, whether it is with money, time, energy or attention. All of these things are equally important.

Most people remember the NFL's first attempt to develop the game in Europe for its roster of high-performance alumni, familiar NFL names like Kurt Warner, James Harrison, and Adam Vinatieri. What few realize is the emphasis on global talent, with each team expected to carry and play a handful of players born outside the US and the league attempting to develop a European path to college football. This process of finding talented diamonds in the rough and turning them into football prospects ultimately fell to Reinebold at the behest of British football legend Tony Allen, a difficult task he enjoyed.

“It was like missionary work,” he laughs.

Over a 15-year period, NFL Europe will employ players from across the continent, as well as Mexico and eventually Japan. The quality of international training varied widely and was far behind what it is today, so the process of leveling up raw athletes was an ongoing challenge.

“I did this study with the NFL where I compared the training and competitive opportunities for an athlete in the United States to an athlete in one of the most developed countries like Germany,” says Reinebold. . “At that point, they would have to play in the local amateur program for 25 years before they could match the opportunities afforded an American kid throughout his college career.

Jeff Reinebold is an NFL Analyst for Sky Sports

Development was a process, but Reinebold thinks the results speak for themselves. His tenure helped produce 32 players on the NFL training rosters and made them established NFL stars and Super Bowl champions. Reinebold will never forget the day the call from a 17-year-old swimmer who had followed his friend to a Düsseldorf Panthers practice arrived at his office. He made the trip to see this big kid who could bend and there was Sebastian Vollmer, a 6'4,200 pound athlete who would one day become the New England Patriots second round selection.

“I remember the first time I sat down with his mom and dad with his coach as a translator because his parents didn't speak English very well,” Reinebold recalls. “I said I think Sebastian has a chance to go to America and play college football and pay for his education. Her mother looked at me like I had three heads.

Finding Vollmer turned out to be the easiest part, getting him to college was the near impossibility. As Reinbold describes 15 years ago college coaches just weren't lining up to recruit Europe.

“I have very good contacts in college football and I couldn't convince anyone to take a chance on him,” he laughs. “Even in Indiana, where I went to school, the coach there was a college teammate of mine and he said, 'Jeff, there's no reason for us to come to Dusseldorf for recruiting a lean offensive tackle, we have a lot of that here. '. ”

The solution was a summer camp for elite European players to attract top college football coaches, from Chip Kelly halfway around the world, to a one-stop-shop recruiting. The only problem was Vollmer couldn't attend, he had a playoff game, so Reinebold hired a van and crammed everyone in to make sure the coaches saw what they were missing.

“By the end of the first quarter, all of the coaches had gone to remind their head coaches to say 'hey, this kid is a really good player.'” He smiles.

These types of recruiting events are now part of the annual football calendar, with groups like PPI and Europe's Elite leading a new wave of recruiting in Europe and building on the legacy of NFL Europe.

“Elite level players, the big guys, the big guys - they're going to find their way to D1 schools because the talent is undeniable. With the advent of the internet and a lot more information being shared, I think schools will always find these guys, ”Reinebold says. “But it's the upper-level kid, the developing kid, the one that goes from Denmark to Michigan to be drafted into the NFL. These schools have to go to Europe to find these guys. You will find a child with no experience in sports. These young people are protected from the recruitment process. These children are coming, they are hungry and they want the opportunity to dream. "

Jeff Reinebold coaching at SMU

For Reinebold, it is about finding actors with the right tools and skills for the development of projects, those with potentially lower floors but much higher ceilings. 25 years after having the chance to work with international players for the first time, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats special teams coordinator still does as the CFL continues its 2.0 Global initiative, in many ways the philosophical offspring of the NFL Europe. Although no longer involved in player identification, Reinebold has adopted global players as a coach like few others. Mexican kicker Gabriel Amavizca-Ortiz became the first world player to score CFL points under his leadership and after shooting a hamstring shot at training camp, French defensive lineman Valentin Gnahoua stepped up. developed to become a crucial part of his special teams unit, performing several big plays. on the Gray Cup race of the Ticats. Yet many of the challenges for global players without high-level academic experience remain the same as in the early 2000s.

“It took Valentine six weeks after pulling his hamstrings to compete emotionally and physically at this level. It's not as easy as taking international players and creating a schedule. You have to educate them. It's a full-time job to prepare them for training camp, ”explains Reinebold. “What they experience at training camp, they've never seen anything like it, even from a distance, even in the best programs. It's not anything close to speed, intensity, amount of learning, pressure, or level of contact - all of this is a step forward for them. They can do it, but they need help. Framing. Time and opportunity. "

Reinebold believes the CFL was on the right track with its next crop of global perspectives before the pandemic derailed things and required more investment from us. The problems they are trying to solve in partnership with the international federations are for many the same ones that annoyed him in the past.

“First, you need to know where to look and second, you need to know the politics. Each federation is different. That's one of the things the CFL learns in this process, ”says Reinebold. “In the NFL, we would be rejected by some federations because they do not want to lose their best players. They care about the success of their national teams. It may even affect their funding. We had to learn this the hard way.

Nonetheless, Reinebold marvels at how far international football has come and how much talent there is. He's just happy to have played a small part in laying the foundation.

“It was wonderful to see the whole genesis of the football community in Europe and around the world flourish. It was an exceptional experience. I loved every minute of it, ”says Reinbold. “I really had enormous admiration and respect for children. Many of them came from their local sports programs and junior football. Recognizing how little they had of it, how spoiled they were and how grateful they were for everything - this was a great program to participate in.


Know the main point of the game. The goal of American football is to score points by carrying the ball from a starting point on a 120-yard long and 53. 3-yard wide field into a specially marked 10-yard-deep area at either end of the field called an end zone. Each team uses the end zone in front of them to score while trying to prevent the opposing team from reaching the end zone behind them. [1] Each end zone has a Y-shaped structure called the field goal which is positioned on the end line. The field goals are used to score points with special kicks

The end zone that a team is defending is usually referred to as “their” end zone. Thus, a team with yards ( 64. 0 m ) to go before it can score a touchdown is 30 yards ( 27. 4 m ) from its end zone. Teams trade possession of the ball according to strict rules. Whichever team is in possession of the ball is known as the “offense;” the other team is called the “defense. ”

Learn the time divisions. Football is divided into four quarters of 15 minutes each, with a break between the second and third periods called “halftime” that is normally 12 minutes long. [3] While the clock is réactive, the game is divided into even shorter segments called “plays ' or ' downs. '

A play begins when the ball is moved from the ground into the hands of the players, and ends when either the ball hits the ground, or the person holding the ball is tackled and his knee or elbow nuances the ground. When a play is over, an official called a referee, places the ball on the yard marker which corresponds to his or her judgment of the place where the forward progress of the player with the ball was stopped. Each team has 4 downs and within those downs, they have to make ten yards from the line of scrimmage ( the starting point ). If the team fails to do so within the 4 downs, the offensive team has to hand over the ball to the opposing team. If the offense succeeds in taking the ball 10 yards in the 4 downs they get another 4 downs to move the ball 10 yards. The teams have 30 seconds to get into formation and begin the next play.

Play time can stop for a few different reasons : If a player runs out of bounds, a penalty is called, a flag is thrown, or a pass is thrown but not caught by anybody ( an incomplete pass ), the clock will stop while referees sort everything out.

Penalties are indicated by referees, who throw yellow flags onto the field when they see a violation. This lets everyone on the field know that a penalty has been called. Penalties normally result in the offending team losing between 5 - 15 yards of field position. [4] There are many penalties, but some of the most common are “offside” ( someone was on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped ), “holding” ( a player grabbed another player with his hands, and either player doesn’t have the ball, instead of blocking him properly ), ' false start ' ( When a player moves before the ball is snapped ), ' Unsportsmanlike conduct ' ( When a player does something that doesn’t show good sportsmanship, and “clipping” ( someone contacted an opposing player other than the ball carrier from behind and below the waist ).

The opening kickoff - At the very beginning of the game, the head referee flips a coin and the home team captain calls out which side of the coin will be face up. If satisfaisant, that captain may choose to kick off or to receive the opening kickoff or allow the visiting team captain to make that choice. Once the kicking and receiving teams are decided, the team captain who lost the coin toss gets to decide which goal his or her team will defend during the first half. This principal play is called the kickoff, and typically involves a long kick down field from one team to the other, with the team that kicked the ball rushing towards the team receiving the ball in order to prevent them from running the ball a long ways back towards the kicking team’s end zone. After halftime, there is a second kickoff by whichever team did not perform the opening kickoff. Throughout the second half, the end zones each team defends is the one opposite the end zone that team defended in the first half

Downs - The word “down” is synonymous with the word “chance” or ' plays ' in American football. The offense is allowed four downs to move the ball at least 10 yards ( neuf. 1 m ) towards the end zone. Each play ends in a new down. If the goal of 10 yards ( 9. 1 m ) from the first down is achieved before the fourth down is over, the count resets to the first down, commonly noted as “1st and 10” to indicate that the standard 10 yards ( 9. 1 m ) are once again required to reset to the first down. [6] Otherwise, the downs count from one to four. If four downs pass without resetting to the first down, control of the ball passes to the other team

This means that a team that moves the ball 10 or more yards on each play will never be on the second down. Every time the ball is moved 10 yards ( 9. 1 m ) or more in the proper direction, the next play is a first down with 10 yards ( 9. 1 m ) to go.

The distance required to reset to the first down is cumulative, so running 4 yards ( 3. sept m ) on the first down, 3 yards ( 2. sept m ) on the second, and 3 yards ( 2. sept m ) on the third is enough for the next play to be a first down again.

If a play ends with the ball behind the line of scrimmage, the difference in yards is added to the total number of yards required for a first down. For example, if the quarterback is tackled 7 yards ( 6. 4 m ) behind the line with the ball in his hands, the next play will be noted as “2nd and 17, ” meaning that 17 yards ( 15. 5 m ) must be covered in the next three plays to reset to a first down.

Instead of playing the fourth down, the offense can choose to punt the ball, which is a long kick that transfers control of the ball to the other team, but is likely to puissance them to start farther up the field than they would otherwise have been.

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