Just before the release of the full schedule for the 2023 NFL season, Colts fans like me across Europe got the news we were all hoping for. The Indianapolis Colts will be playing in Europe this season. Specifically, they’ll be playing the New England Patriots in Frankfurt, Germany on November 12.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) May 10, 2023
The Colts played the Jacksonville Jaguars at London’s Wembley Stadium in 2016. Their return to my side of the pond reflects the continued exceptional growth of the NFL in Europe, and in particular in the UK and Germany.
Munich provided a wonderful crowd for the Seahawks vs Buccaneers matchup last season, but the two Germany games this season are in Frankfurt (Kansas City vs Miami is the other game). London will once again be hosting three games this year. With Buffalo, Jacksonville (twice), and Baltimore all coming to the UK, the days of only the worst teams in the league being keen to play in he the UK are long gone.
NFL Germany GM Dr. Alexander Steinforth commented this on the two Germany games this year:
“The confirmed matchups in Germany will make for two very exciting games for fans this November and we are delighted to be playing both games in Frankfurt, a city rich in NFL history and with a significant NFL fan following.
“The League extends our sincere thanks to our partners at the DFL (Deutsche Fußball Liga/ Bundesliga), the City of Frankfurt and Eintracht Frankfurt in supporting these two games, and we are excited to see Frankfurt Stadium host such iconic teams in our sport in the Fall.”
The game should be particularly special for Colts International Player Pathway Program participant, Marcel Dabo. The German Defensive Back will have the opportunity to play in front of a home crowd should he secure a spot on the 53-Man roster this year.
— NFL (@NFL) May 3, 2022
It should also be a special occasion for Left Tackle Bernhard Raimann, who will likely start that game. Raimann is from a little further afield than Dabo. Raimann’s hometown of Steinbrunn, Austria is roughly 750km from Frankfurt. The potential presence of both on the Colts team should secure strong support for the Colts. Not to mention the Colts fans like me from across the rest of Europe who will be jostling for tickets.
“The best Austrian import since Schwarzenegger”
CMU’s Bernhard Raimann made the TE-to-OT transition in the midst of a pandemic. Despite only 10 games (in his life) on the OL, NFL scouts are buzzing about his journey and how high he could be drafted:https://t.co/LyzQ0qz6B7
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 30, 2021
The Patriots themselves should have solid support in Germany, thanks to the long and successful service of German Right Tackle Sebastian Vollmer at the Gillette Stadium. The two-time Super Bowl champion has done as much as anyone to further the growth of the NFL in Germany. That being said, Vollmer retired in 2017 and given the NFL is growing so quickly in Europe, a lot of us fans have short memories. Perhaps the current Colts’ continental contingent will outweigh Vollmer’s historical impact and ensure Indianapolis has the crowd on their side.
In terms of the game itself, Indianapolis will be hoping to exercise the demons from their humiliating 26-3 defeat last season. That was the first game of the post-Frank Reich era and saw Sam Ehlinger being thrown to the Bill Belichick wolf, which went about as well as could have been expected. The Colts will be hoping to instead bring back memories of Jonathan Taylor’s electric performance in 2021, which he capped off with a thrilling long run for a touchdown.
The Patriots’ 2022 season was certainly less humiliating than the Colts’ season, but it was nevertheless underwhelming by their lofty standards. They’ll be hoping to bounce back next season, especially as some pundits are already penciling them in as the bottom team in the AFC East. They may also have Quarterback drama with Mac Jones, depending on how many rumors you believe.
Indianapolis will be looking for the first few rays of sunshine as the Steichen-Richardson era begins. It’s far too early to say whether Richardson will be playing (and how much) by the time this game rolls around. But if he is the Colts’ starter by that stage, he should offer an exciting look at the future of the franchise and potentially the future of the position in the NFL.
Whatever the state of the Colts’ season by Week 10, their return to playing in Europe is thrilling for European fans like myself and is a testament to the continued rapid growth of the game on this side of the Atlantic. It’s brilliant to see the Colts play their part in this growth and I hope to be one of the many Colts fans watching them in Frankfurt this November.
More from The Blue Stable:
Check out our most recent article which covers the Colts’ 3rd round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, North Carolina’s Josh Downs: HERE