HEAD COACH: Jack Elway
RECORD: (1991) 7-3 (1992) 3-7
The Frankfurt Galaxy was the only franchise to survive the complete lifetime of the WLAF, NFLE, and Europa, as Germany turned out to be the hotbed for American Football. At the end of the complete cycle of the league through the years, the Galaxy was the oldest American Football franchise outside of North America with 15 seasons under its belt. The franchise appeared in the World Bowl 8 times and won 4 of them.
With its raucous crowd at Waldstadion, that picked up and embraced the American brand quickly, the Galaxy were a team to be reckoned with in 1991. The team led the league averaging over 35,000 fans a contest in 1991, and had 51,000+ show up for the team’s season ending heart breaker to the lowly Sacramento Surge.
As no owner could be secured to fund the franchise- the league ran the franchise. The team was coached by Jack Elway, father of notable quarterback John Elway, and former QB Oliver Luck served as the General Manager.
The Galaxy name was apparently always at the forefront of the selection process. It was the logo that took sometime to be designed. Even the colors of purple, burnt orange, and crimson came together before the iconography. It took the designers seeing a photo of a nebula taken from a high precision telescope in the LA Times, for the idea to finally take shape.
On offense the team revolved around do it all back, Tony Baker– who led the team in rushing, receiving, and kick returns, and the league in yards from scrimmage.
Quarterback Mike Perez was the 3rd quarterback taken overall in the draft and threw 13 touchdowns on 357 attempts. Jason Johnson was Perez’s favorite WR target, making 38 receptions for 635 yards and 4 TDs. Cedric Gordon, Alvin Lee, Craig Morton, (and future monster truck racer) Chad Fortune, rounded out the receiver corps as all made over 15 receptions each.
Stefan Maslo was a homegrown German product found in Operation Discovery, but had a rough season finishing 6/13 on FGs and 7/9 on XPs.
The defense on this team was full of rocks and glass. Running a 3-4 defense, the team scored the first points in league history when Chris Williams stuffed runningback Judd Garrett of the Monarchs for a safety. Chris Alexander led the Galaxy with 7 sacks. Not far behind, Mark Mraz, and Chris Williams both finished with 6.5. The team finished with 42 sacks in 1991, and 11 interceptions.
Cedric Stallworth led the back 4 with 3 interceptions, while hard hitting safety Tim Broady came to the line and made 2 picks and 3.5 sacks. After losing the opening contest to the Monarchs 24-11, the Galaxy seemed to like to live on the edge, winning only two games convincingly by greater than 7 points (NY-NJ and Montreal).
Outside of that, Frankfurt seemed content to win ugly games on the back of its smothering defense, 10-3 over the Riders, Dragons, and Fire, 30-28 over the Skyhawks, and 17-14 over the Thunder.
Strangely the Surge, – the only team that the Galaxy played twice that season, just seemed to be their Achilles’s Heel, as Frankfurt dropped both contests against them that season. The losses proved decisive and despite their 7-3 record, the Galaxy did not qualify for the playoffs. They finished 3rd in their all European division behind eventual champion London and runner-up Barcelona.
The team was riding high entering 1992, and there was a lot of optimism in the air. After the 7-3 record in 1991 fans were enthusiastic that 1992 would be the year for Frankfurt, but much the opposite happened as the team, and the European squads, became mired in mediocrity.
The season started out strong. Frankfurt opened with victories over their European counterparts, Barcelona (17-0), and London (31-28) to go 2-0, then proceeded to lose their next 7 in a row. A season ending victory over the Monarchs 19-16, capped off their 3-7 record.
Unfortunately most of the 1991 defensive talent of the team had been cannibalized by the NFL in the offseason and the team (much to its credit,) attempted to address this by adding former Skyhawk players Jon Carter and Pat McGuirk to the defense. The team had lost its cardiac appeal, and dropped 3 games by 9 points. A horrible mid-season stretch punctuated by losses to Orlando 38-0, formerly winless Ohio 20-17, and the Sacramento Surge 51-7, really put the writing on the wall.
Unflappable Mike Perez split quarterbacking duties with Alex Espinoza and Chris Cochrane after being injured early on into the season. Leading rusher Tony Baker struggled to a 2.8 average per carry behind a once solid line. Chad Fortune at TE led the team with 40 receptions for 494 yards and 5 touchdowns. -Tony himself was not far behind at 39. 1992 signee Lew Barnes electrified the offense on 24 receptions, taking 3 of them for touchdowns including an 86 yarder. Jason Johnson (22 receptions) and Richard Buchanan (21 receptions,17.3 yard average, and 3 touchdowns,) rounded out a fairly reliable receiving corps.
Robbie Keen was a welcome oddity to the team, as he handled both kicking and punting for the departed Stefan Maslo. Unfortunately he had 3 blocked punts on the year, and was 2/6 on field goals outside of 40 yards. Receiver Lew Barnes gave Baker a much needed respite at punt returner and split time with him at kick returner largely to the same average results.
On defense, Tim Broady was flying around the secondary like a man on a mission at safety. He recorded 4 picks for 172 yards, and a league record 107 yard return for a TD. The team’s leading sacker was Willie Don Wright at 5, and then Lyneil Mayo and George Muraoka at 4.
The Galaxy were able to capitalize off of the large American military presence in the area to help boost attendance.
Frankfurt played both the first and the last game in WLAF/NFLE/Eurpopa history.
The Galaxy was 0-3 against the Sacramento Surge, and 0-3 against the worst team (Surge x2 1991 and Glory 1992) in the WLAF.
Oliver Luck’s son Andrew (future NFL QB) spent time with his dad overseas in Frankfurt.
When the WLAF reemerged in 1995, they completely retooled the league. The teams now included holdovers Barcelona, London, and Frankfurt, and newcomers Amsterdam, Rhein, and Scotland.
Frankfurt won its first World Bowl 26-22 over Amsterdam. The Galaxy featured WLAF leader in passing yardage, Paul Justin, who had 2,394 yards, Nathaniel Bolton at runningback (420 yards), and Mario Bailey at receiver with 46 receptions. The team was loaded across the board on offense, but the defense was staggering registering an impressive 23 turnovers primarily between Chris Hall (8 int), Jack Kellogg (7 int), and Johnny Dixon (5 int).
Other players of note on the team were former Houston Oiler WR Tony Jones, Philadelphia receiver Mike Bellamy, OL Mark Dixon, and Falcon receiver Shawn Collins. Former NFL player Ernie Stautner was head coach of the franchise as a whole new front office came in, and was named Coach of the Year for his efforts.
In 1996 the franchise repeated, appearing in the World Bowl, but lost to the Scottish Claymores 32-27. Former Dallas Cowboy Steve Pelluer led the charge at quarterback throwing for 2136 yards after Ryan left the franchise. Most of the team returned intact, including Mario Bailey, and Mike Bellamy. Jay Kerney however, led the team with 50 catches. On defense the team had another solid season but the anemic rushing game kept games interesting all season long.
The 1997 season didn’t provide great highlights for the Galaxy. They slipped to a 4-6 record with inconsistencies at quarterback. Mario Bailey again returned to the squad, accompanied by Travis Hannah at WR. Future coach John Morton also played WR on the team, and journeyman punter Scott Player, (who ended up playing in 4 different leagues during his career,) also ended up on the roster.
The 1998 season saw a new coach in Dick Curl- and the Galaxy responded by returning to the World Bowl again, but lost to the Rhein Fire 34-10. Posting a 7-3 record that season, Curl was named NFLE Coach of the Year in both 1998 and 1999. Future NFL Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo was defensive coordinator, former WR Wes Chandler coached receivers, and Jack Bicknell‘s son coached linebackers. Notables from this team were Damon Huard, Mel Agee, Vernon Turner, and of course, Mario Bailey. They’d win WB ’99 38-24 over the Barcelona Dragons with future Carolina Panther QB Jake Delhomme and Pat Barnes. In 2000, the franchise took a step back, finishing at 4-6. After the season Dick Curl resigned finishing with a 17-13 record.
In 2001, Doug Graeber stepped into the head coaching role for the Galaxy- but the team was in a rebuilding mode and Mario Bailey had retired. Toronto Argonaut Michael Bishop started at quarterback, and AFL veteran Andy McCullough was at receiver and the team struggled to a 3-7 record. In 2002, the team showed some signs of life, posting a 6-4 record. Of note, Matt Bryant would be the kicker on this team and runningback Curtis Alexander set a NFLE record for most yards from scrimmage in a game with 279. The team finished tied for first with a 6-4 record with the Rhein Fire in 2003. James Brown and Quinn Gray would play in a 2 headed monster rotation at quarterback and crush the Fire for the championship 35-16.
After finishing 7-3 in 2004 under new head coach Mike Jones, the Galaxy returned to the World Bowl championship, but it ended in a 30-24 heart breaker to the Berlin Thunder. The team fell off the map briefly in 2004, at 3-7 , but rebounded again to win the World Bowl in 2005, this time 22-7 over the Amsterdam Admirals.
2007 was the final season of the league. It was fitting that the Galaxy- the team that won more championships and was the oldest of any franchise outside the US, would face the youngest in the Hamburg Sea Devils. In the final game of the NFLE, the Galaxy lost to the Sea Devils 37-28. The league disbanded after the season. It was a nice ride for the Frankfurt Galaxy who lasted for some 15 seasons.
Germany has not forgotten football, and the city of Frankfurt has a new American Football team called the Frankfurt Universe, and Germany itself continues to be a hotbed of American Football with a budding minor league scene.
Oliver Luck has gone on to do greater things in football working behind the scenes for the NCAA for many years and now heading the new Spring football initiative with the XFL 2020.
At this time I am still missing autographs on these cards from:
ProSet 1991 WLAF: Tim Broady, Mark Mraz, Yepi Pau’u, Chris Williams.
Ultimate 1992: Yepi Pau’u, Cedric Stallworth, Mark Seals, Anthony Wallace, Timothy Broady, Lonnie Finch, Chad Fortune, Harry Jackson, Joe Johnson.
Wild Card 1992: Johnny Thomas, Richard Buchanan, Chad Fortune, Joe Greenwood, Anthony Wallace, Steve Bartalo, Lyneil Mayo, Alex Espinoza.