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Hamburg Sea Devils

Coaches:
Jack Bicknell (2005-2006)
Vince Martino (2007)

Stadium: Volksparkstadion

Records:
5-5 (2006)
3-6-1 (2007)
7-3 (2008)*

* World Bowl Champions

BACKGROUND:

When the Scottish Claymores packed up at the conclusion of the 2004 season, the franchise was immediately replaced by Hamburg in November of that year. Hamburg had apparently been trying to land an NFLE team for sometime. At that point, with the exception of Amsterdam, all NFLE franchises were located in Germany. This helped the league pair down travel costs even more as it entered its twilight.

The franchise’s colors were red, white, dark blue, and teal. Due to Hamburg being the 3rd largest sea port in Europe, and a sheltered natural harbor, the aquatic Sea Devil name was chosen for the franchise name.

In his 3rd run at head coach in the ever changing league, Jack Bicknell, formerly of the Claymores and Dragons, took the reins at head coach.
Notably his general manager, Kathrin Platz was the first woman to hold the job in professional football history. They’d assemble a pretty interesting coaching staff, that included Vince Martino (OC/OL) and Sam Rutigliano (QB,WR).

The Sea Devils were an upgrade at the gate from the Claymores and boasted fairly strong attendance, proving that Germans were still hungry for the American brand of football.

2005:

The NFL allocated QBs Casey Bramlett (CIN), Ryan Dinwiddle (CHI), Tom Arth (IND), and Chirs Finlen (NO). Among the notables at other positions were Antonio Smith (ARZ), Bobby Blizzard (ARZ), and Tyson Clabo (DEN).

Bramlett and Art ended up taking the majority of snaps at QB for the Sea Devils to largely mixed results. On the bright side, the franchise’s rushing attack featured a two headed attack of Zack Abron (393 yards) and Larry Croom (303 yards). The team’s receiving corps was well balanced. Chris Collins (42 receptions) and Scott McCready (474 yards), a British national, led the way, while Bobby Blizzard kept the chains moving with a healthy 34 receptions at tight end. Runningbacks Zack Abron and Larry Croom both clocked in nearly 20 receptions each, while Terrance Metcalf was the long bomb threat (21.9 yards per reception) who had a league leading 95 yard TD. Ricky Bryant, had only 12 receptions, but led the team in TD receptions with 4.

The Sea Devils featured DB Shawn Mayer throughout the entirety of the franchise. With his NFL pedigree, he helped himself to 5 interceptions in 2005. Antonio Smith led Sea Devil defenders with 6 sacks. Hamburg overall had 13 interceptions and 23 sacks, and finished second in the league only allowing 196 points.

The Sea Devils proved to be a competitive team, scoring 213 points (3rd in league), and with 3 of their 5 losses coming at a combined 8 points. The franchise’s first win came in their home opener in Week 3, a 31-24 win over the Rhein Fire in front of almost 20,000 fans.

The franchise posted league expansion NFLE bests for wins (5) and attendance average (17,920). In Week 10, Hamburg had a season best 21,204 fans in attendance for their 17-15 win over the Galaxy.

2006

Terrible winter conditions plagued the team throughout the first half of the season, and the record reflected it, as the Sea Devils dropped to a 0-6-1 record, however the team rebounded, winning the last three games of the season to finish with a 3-6-1 record.

The Sea Devils overall finished just below average in nearly every category offensively, but on the bright side, in pass protection, the team only allowed 11 sacks on the season. Brock Berlin took the majority of the starting snaps at QB. He threw for 1041 yards and 7 TDs. McReady returned and was the clear cut #1 receiver catching 41 balls for 486 yards and 2 TDs. The runningback corps saw Mike Jemison (386 yards), and Dejuan Green (216 yards) snagging the lion’s share of the carries.

On defense, the team was pretty spry leading the league by a wide margin with 24 sacks and a respectable 17 turnovers. Rayshun Reed led the team with 3 interceptions, with 1 going for a TD, as well as 9 pass deflections. Scott Scharff paced the franchise with 6 sacks, while Russ Rabe and Ivory McCoy both finished with 4. DB Shawn Mayer also checked in with 69 total tackles and a team leading 9 special teams tackles.

Although the team finished -1 in the turnover game, they allowed a grizzly 4 combined TD returns directly off of them.

In the face of the terrible weather, the Sea Devils finished at roughly 15k attendance a game- down, but still respectable as far as the numbers were concerned, especially for such a lackluster start.

2007

On March 28, 2007, Jack Bicknell stepped down from his head coaching duties, citing health issues. Vince Martino, his longtime assistant was appointed to replace him- but that didn’t stop the good times from rolling.

To achieve this feat, the Sea Devils reloaded on offense, by selecting Quentin Griffin and former Houston Texan Tony Hollings at runningback, as well as former second round pick Teyo Johnson at TE. Then they selected Casey Bramlet (WAS) at QB, Mike Briesel (HOU) at G, and Marcus Maxwell (SF) at WR in the NFL allocation draft pool.

Bramlet had gone through an interesting transition since his first time quarterbacking the team in 2005. After the 2005 season he played a year in the CFL with the Blue Bombers. There he matured a bit and had a respectable season. The Redskins picked him up and shipped him back to Europa where the Sea Devils were willing to pick up where they left off. Casey had a good season for the Sea Devils, throwing for 2019 yards and 16 TDs to just 5 interceptions.

Quentin Griffin and Hollings were a one-two punch at runningback. Griffin had 358 yards on just 77 carries, while Hollings led the team with 4 rushing TDs running behind future Houston Texans starter (G) Mike Brisel. Justin Jenkins and Marcus Maxwell had almost identical receiving stats with 32 catches each, but Maxwell hauled in 9 TD passes.

Shawn Mayer again led the defense with 77 tackles and 7 pass deflections. Brent Grimes and Mayer tied for the team lead with 2 picks each, while Ben Ishola led the team with 5.0 sacks. The team finished at a +3 in turnovers, largely due to solid QB play, and was a close third (to first) allowing 179 points.

Sitting at a middling 3-3 after 6 weeks, the Sea Devils repeated the same feat from the previous season- this time winning 4 straight to end the season, finishing 7-3 and earning a trip to the World Bowl. Surging at the end of the season allowed the Sea Devils to finish with an identical record as the Galaxy, who the Sea Devils defeated in the final World Bowl 37-28.

Attendance was robust, never dropping below 18,000 a contest, and setting a franchise record in their final home game in week 9 with over 30,000 showing up to see the new big thing.

THE END:

Europa got its plug pulled at the end of the World Bowl and that was it for Hamburg, who completely finished on a high note, as the team won the World Bowl and displayed some impressive attendance at the end.

NOTES:

Hamburg is considered a hotbed of American Football. The city has been host to the Hamburg Eagles, Hamburg Blue Devils, and most recently the ELF Hamburg Sea Devils.

The Sea Devil’s tie against the Berlin Thunder in 2006 (17-17), proved to be only the second tie in league history, with the first being way back in 1992 between the Birmingham Fire and London Monarchs– also a 17-17 finish.

Hamburg went down as the final World Bowl winner in league history.

LEGACY:

HC- Jack Bicknell
Other coaches- Joe Bowden (Ast LB), Cory Sauter (QB)
RB- Tony Hollings
DL- Antonio Smith
DB- Eric Crouch

Scottish Claymores

**UNDER CONSTRUCTION**
This section is currently under construction.

Coaches:
Jim Criner (1995-2000)
Gene Dahlquist (2001-2003)
Jack Bicknell (2004)

Stadiums:
Murrayfield Stadium (1995-2000, 2004)
Hampden Park (1998-2004)

Record: (43-57)
7-3 (1996)*
5-5 (1997)
2-8 (1998)
4-6 (1999)
6-4 (2000)
4-6 (2001)
5-5 (2002)
6-4 (2003)
2-8 (2004)

* World Bowl Champions

BACKGROUND:

The Scottish Claymores were among the first ‘new breed’ teams to join alongside newcomers Amsterdam and Rhein, in the rebooted World League during 1994. They played initially at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburg- the capital of Scotland when the ‘new generation’ of team’s first season began in 1995.

The team’s colors were (royal) blue, navy, and white, with a tinge of silver. The royal blue and white were from the national flag, while the silver represented the color of a claymore, and the navy acted as an accent. The team was named after the unique, great two handed sword employed by many Scottish clans during the medieval era, the claymore.

Much like the two handed sword, the franchise endured many extreme ups and downs throughout its 10 year lifespan in the World League/ NFLE.

1995 (2-8 Jim Cryner)

The franchise had a perfect record in its preseason under head coach Lary Kuharich (5-0) in 1995, but apparently, Kuharich’s practices were ruthlessly at full speed, with half the team on IR at one point. This led to his dismissal days before the franchise’s season opener, due to a near revolt by the players. He’d be replaced by defensive coordinator Jim Criner- but it was too late to salvage the season already as the franchise, slumped to a 2-8 record its first season. The Claymores first win came in Week 3 against the Frankfurt Galaxy.

There were some bright spots that season. Offensively the team had WR Allen DeGraffenreid finish with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage (490 on kick returns, 70 on punt returns, and 624 receiving). His 44 receptions ranked 5th in the league. Former Eagle RB Siran Stacy’s comeback story began with 785 yards rushing- which led the league and set a new benchmark. Stacy’s 43 receptions ranked 6th in the league.

On defense, DE Alan Young paced the team with 7 sacks, (tied for 3rd) and defensive tackle Jerold Jeffcoat chipped in 5. Otherwise DB Jocelyn Borgella finished with 3 interceptions to lead the team, which finished with 12 overall picks.

Unfortunately the team cycled through 4 quarterbacks throughout their maiden season, whether due to injury or ineffectiveness, Matt Blundin saw the majority of the snaps throwing for 1228 yards and 6 TDs, followed by Lee Williamson, Terry Karg, and Jim Ballard. Blundin was the only one who qualified by season’s end, and he accounted for 11 interceptions, on a QB platoon that gave up the rock an overall 17 times.

The Claymores seemed to get bogged down frequently midfield. Their 3 punters finished dead last, and although they accounted for 17 punts inside the 20, they averaged an anemic 34.8 yards per kick.

1996 (7-3 Jim Criner) **WORLD BOWL CHAMPIONS**

1996 was a total reversal of fortunes for the Claymores, as they became the league’s first worst to first story, stunning the small league. The Claymores lost 3 games by a total of 8 points, and cobbled together a few close wins, alongside a punishing 20-0 win over the defending champion Frankfurt Galaxy. The Claymores boasted a 5-0 mark at home, and were second in the league in scoring with 233 points.

The team had a solid draft, going primarily defense throughout the draft, but most notably added WR Yo Murphy in the 3rd round, and Ron Dickerson in the 12th.

At quarterback, the Claymores went with Jim Ballard and NFL allocation Steve Matthews (KC). Although Matthews led the team early on, Ballard proved to have the hot hand after Matthews went down to injury. He’d lead the Claymores through their final 3 games and into World Bowl ’96. The team on offense relied on WR Sean LaChapelle, who grabbed a league best 1,023 yards on 47 catches, while Siran Stacy quickly ascended the league’s career rushing charts, rushing for another 780 yards.

Defensively, the team played lights out. Both George Coghill and James Fuller checked in with 5 picks, while the team overall finished with 19 interceptions and 25 sacks. Their defense was the best in the league, allowing just 190 points.

Paul McCallum pulled double duty as a kicker and punter, going 11/15 on FGs and averaging 35.1 yards per punt. Nationalist Gavin Hastings joined the squad to kick extra points, and became one of the more popular players on the team, thanks to his rugby background, and also as a ham-fisted marketing tool to bring in more fans.

World Bowl ’96 provided an interesting rematch between the defending champion Frankfurt Galaxy and the upstart Claymores in Edinburg. The Claymores were able to power by the Galaxy thanks to an impressive second quarter, led by Jim Ballard and eventual World Bowl MVP Yo Murphy, who caught 2 of his 3 TDs. Later during the 3rd quarter Murphy added a 71 yard TD strike, to add to his impressive totals. Although the Galaxy refused to go away, the Scottish Claymores eventually captured their World Bowl title 32-27. Yo Murphy won the MVP award, catching 3 TDs and accounting for 163 yards. The announced crowd of almost 39,000 fans at the game, remains the largest ever crowd to watch an American football game in Scottish history.

1997

The Claymores experienced some setbacks in 1997 and finished the regular season 5-5. There were some notable players drafted by Scotland including former NFL players Justin Fields, Kevin Scott, and Rickey Brady. Other notables on the squad included RB Mazio Royster, who joined an extremely crowded and talented backfield, and OG Marco Rivera.

A 3 game win streak put the team in pole position to make the playoffs with 2 weeks to go, but with back to back losses, (including an embarrassing shellacking from the runner up Dragons, 46-18,) the Claymores hopes of defending their World Bowl title were doomed. The aforementioned Dragons proved to be Scotland’s worst nightmare, outscoring the Claymores 66-25 in their two meetings.

In previous seasons, the Claymores were able to assemble a semblance of a passing game to keep opposing teams’ defenses relatively honest, to disguise Scotland’s intentions to fuel their offense on the back of their rushing game. -No more in 97, as QBs Dave Barr and Spence Fischer combined for 2000 passing yards and 4 TDs to 10 interceptions.

The QBs did spread the ball around between receivers as Yo Murphy led the way in catches (47) and yards (559) and tied for the team lead in receiving TDs (2). 6 players finished with 17 or more catches, and 5 of those with 200 or more yards.

Siran Stacy ran hard for 785 yards on 199 carries, but just 4 TDs and a long of 31 yards and defenses clamped down on the Claymores’ rushing attack.

The special teams also provided some entertainment, with Eric Smith returning 21 kicks for 552 yards and a 95 yard TD. Wayne Lammie handled punting duties and generally outkicked his coverage with a booming 45.1 yards per punt, but was a woeful 1/8 on field goal attempts outside the 40. National Karl Gronroos hit 5/6 from inside the 40.

While the defense was still solid in 1997, the turnovers were way down,
with the team posting 9 interceptions. DB Kevin Scott led the way with 3, while Jason Simmons led the team in sacks with 6.

The Claymores again boasted an tough scoring defense, allowing 154 points on the season, but their offense was just as bad, posting just 134 points. Attendance was sluggish for the defending World Bowl Champ too, with a high of 16k showing up in Week 9 and a low of just barely over 9k showing up in Week 6. The team needed an answer to their disappointing attendance.

1998

In 1998, the Claymores became more of a national team, as they split time between Murrayfield in Edinburg and Hampden Park in Glasgow. This exposed the team to a different market and hit Scotland’s second largest market. In addition it allowed the franchise to test the waters for a possible move to Glasgow permanently in the future, and to try to improve the team’s lagging attendance numbers.

The bottom truly fell out on the franchise, with the team posting a 2-8 record. After a draft that only netted one notable in future CFL ironman Paul McCallum (K), the team saw the crippling departures of RB Siran Stacy, and WRs Yo Murphy and Allen DeGraffenreid. There were some interesting notable names that passed through the franchise, with Vernon Turner at RB, and OLs Joe Andruzzi and Barry Stokes stopping in.

Scotland got off to a particularly bad start, losing its first 4 games, before finally notching a decisive win over the Barcelona dragons in week 5, but the team was essentially eliminated from the playoffs the following week against the Fire. The Claymores would force another solid win against the England Monarchs in week 7, 27-4, but that would be mercifully it for the franchise in 1998.

With the Claymores searching for an offensive identity primarily due to the departure of their bell cow, Stacy, the team relied on Carey Bender and Vernon Turner to carry the way. They’d combine for 674 yards rushing.

Jim Ballard returned at QB after a year away from the franchise. He’d post modest passing yards (1425), but notably throw 8 interceptions to 4 TDs. His best receiving option was WR Chris Miller who accounted for 527 yards on 34 receptions.

Defensively the team struggled, intercepting 7 passes, while forcing 8 fumbles. Brad Keeney led the team in sacks with 5.5, but this team was built to break hearts, allowing 72 points in the 4th quarter, while scoring just a infantile 28. The team also self destructed mentally committing 66 penalties for 524 yards.

Attendance continued to drain out, even with the addition of Glasgow to the team’s venues as all games varied from roughly 8-9k per contest. Hampden Park in Glasgow didn’t have the initial hoped for effect, as 8762 showed up for the franchise’s 26-23 loss to Amsterdam in the season finale.

1999

The franchise entered a new era as Dameyune Craig took over at QB for the Claymores in 1999. Truly abandoning their run first approach that Scotland had taken since its inception, Craig set franchise records across the board throwing for 2932 yards (8.6 yards per attempt), 21 TDs to just 12 interceptions, and an impressive 92.7 QBR. What he couldn’t get done in the air, he did on the ground rushing 53 times for 276 yards and 3 TDs.

Yo Murphy returned at WR with 45 receptions and 752 yards, but he’d be overshadowed by Don Sellers who accounted for 58 catches for 931 yards and 7 TDs.

Unheralded Jesse Haynes led the RB corps with 384 yards, and a particular nose for the endzone, checking in with 7 TDs.

While the team did find an exciting new offensive identity, the defense splintered.

2000
2001
2002
2003
2004

THE END

The Claymores were doomed by the greener pastures in Germany, as the NFLE managing director, Jim Connelly, felt that the Claymores attendance was not sufficient enough to, “Sustain the economics of the league”. It was extremely disappointing to those involved in the Claymores front office, who felt given a few more years, would have built a grass roots presence and the crowds to sustain the franchise- however, the NFLE wanted a turnaround sooner. The Claymores’ blueprints for social engagement had become a model around the league, and had been duplicated by many franchises in assisting in growing their fanbases, sponsorships and partnerships, despite their middling record.

NOTES:

The team had coaching sessions at schools across the city to build support across the community and Scotland. (It also helped that they gave away free tickets.) Proudly the city hosted World Bowl 2003, where nearly 30,000 showed up to watch the Rhein Fire play the Frankfurt Galaxy, but typically attendance ranged between 12-16,000 fans.

The cheerleaders were also considered top notch and performed and appeared at many community outreach and charitable events across Scotland. Shuggie Bear was the team’s mascot and was an anthropomorphic bear with a helmet, jersey and kilt on.

LEGACY:

HC: Jack Bicknell
Other Coaches: Doug Williams
QB: Marcus Crandell, Kevin Daft
RB: Siran Stacy, Ben Snell, Aaron Stecker
WR: JJ Moses, Tim Barnett, Deon Mitchell, Sean LaChapelle, Kevin Drake
LB: Brian Jones
DB: Corris Ervin, Blaine McElmurray, Duane Hawthorne