With the NFL making a return to Germany for a marquee clash between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs, the game's popularity in the region has never been higher, and it's a great time to look at the best German players to ever play in the league.
Even though there have been several failed experiments regarding NFL-backed football in Europe, hopes are high that support will continue to grow and more Germans become interested in playing the sport. With that in mind, let's dig into some of the best German players who have already made the leap to the NFL
5. Kasim Edebali
Born and raised in Hamburg, Kasim Edebali played for his local squad, the second-division Hamburg Huskies, as a teen. He made the move over to the U.S. when he was 18 as part of the USA Football International Student Program. Edebali played high school football for two seasons in New Hampshire before playing college ball at Boston College — including his senior year in 2013, when he racked up 9.5 sacks as a team co-captain.
He ended up signing with several NFL teams after going undrafted. But he only really saw the field for the New Orleans Saints, where he recorded eight sacks, the most of any German player. Finally, he came home and played for the Hamburg Sea Devils, fulfilling the childhood dream he surpassed by making it to the NFL.
4. Uwe Von Schamann
Uwe Von Schamann played in a different era than most of the players on this list. Back in the 1970s and '80s, he was a kicker who caught the eye of scouts due to his soccer-related acumen. His family did move to Texas when he was in high school, so he could play football there, and it paid off — he got to kick for the Oklahoma Sooners in college.
Von Schamann kicked in two Super Bowls for the Miami Dolphins and was perfect on four field goals across those two games. He booted 101 field goals and 237 extra points for Miami across a historic, six-season career.
3. Björn Werner
Björn Werner is certainly one of the better-known names on this list, due in part to his unique path. He spent high school going back and forth from Germany to Connecticut as an exchange student, playing club football at home in Berlin and competing as a high school player at the Salisbury School.
He had a fantastic career at Florida State, where he was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and even was a unanimous All-American in his junior season. After those major individual successes, Werner decided to declare for the 2013 NFL Draft, where he was a first-round selection for the Indianapolis Colts. He didn't end up having a very prolific career, and injuries forced him into an early retirement. But he'll always be remembered for how he burst onto the scene.
2. Jakob Johnson
Jakob Johnson, a current Las Vegas Raider, is the only active player on this list. He was born and mostly grew up in Stuttgart but moved to Florida for his final year of high school and earned a four-star recruiting grade. He went to college at the University of Tennessee before returning home to play for the Stuttgart Scorpions for a year.
He was signed to the New England Patriots through the International Player Pathway Program in 2019, and he eventually became the first player from the program to be activated from the practice squad. In 2020, he became the first pathway player to score a touchdown and the first German player to score one on offense. He has yet to record a touchdown as a Raider, but he has caught six passes for 22 yards and even ran a kickoff back 15 yards last season.
1. Sebastian Vollmer
The top spot on this list was a complete no-brainer, as Sebastian Vollmer is the only player who has achieved team legend status. He won Super Bowl XLIX with the Patriots — one of the most iconic games ever played — and even earned a second-team All-Pro nod back in 2010.
Before all of that, Vollmer actually picked up the sport at the age of 14. He played in Germany for a junior team and was eventually recruited as a tight end, but he ended up making a positional switch at the University of Houston. Vollmer was picked in the second round in 2009 despite not receiving a Combine invite, as he had a more impactful private workout with legendary Patriots line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Vollmer played in 88 NFL games, all as a Patriot. He retired in the spring of 2017 shortly after being released by the Patriots in the wake of another Super Bowl win, which Vollmer himself missed with an injury. He was named to the franchise's All-2010s and All-Dynasty teams, and he will undoubtedly be considered for the team's Hall of Fame when the time comes.
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