Larry ZaniAge: 22Title: Headed the statistics crew for the NFL Europa’s Frankfurt Galaxy until the league’s demise last month.Day job: Kaiserslautern, Germany-based business consultant
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How big a blow was the June 29 decision to fold NFL Europa? From the business and marketing point of view, you can’t fault the logic of the decision. But you can’t imagine the hurt, pain and anger expressed in the hundreds of e-mails I’ve received since the announcement.... Some of the e-mails I received that Friday would bring tears to your eyes. It’s like somebody in the family died.
What will be the impact on the German community? People will still buy NFL merchandise and tickets to any NFL games over here, but those teams will be like a traveling road show. It won’t be the Frankfurt Galaxy or Rhein Fire playing. Local fans developed an allegiance to those teams and established a sense of ownership over them. They felt like they were a part of building American football in Europe. Now, they’ll just be spectators.
What will be the impact on the U.S. military community? I think the community will miss the league’s outreach program, like visits by players and cheerleaders to injured soldiers in the hospital. That’s all gone.
What’s next for your crew, mostly Germans you were training eventually to take over for you? It’s a really tough time for them. They’ll have opportunities to work the game or two the NFL plans to hold in Europe. Some of them are trying to get the German second division to implement the complete NCAA stats packages they’ve helped the first division adopt. We’ll still be in touch.
How did you get into the stats business in the first place? I had done stats in high school and was a student intern in the sports information department at my alma mater, Loyola University of New Orleans. One day prior to the (New Orleans) Saints’ first game as an NFL franchise (Sept. 17, 1967), I got a call … saying they were putting together a game-support staff …. I (went on to work) more than 400 NFL games.”
And connecting with the Galaxy? By the beginning of 1991, business reasons brought me to Germany and coincidentally the beginnings of the NFL’s World League of American Football. Since then, all my stats work has been here in Europe. I have done every Galaxy game and most of the World Bowls.
Was there a particular highlight? The very first game. The Galaxy played the London Monarchs. It was the first professional game in Europe played by teams who were in a regular league. It was fun being a part of helping American football grow in Europe.
And now? There’s an emptiness. Local businesses leaders have told me they can’t imagine a spring without American football in (Frankfurt’s) Commerzbank Arena.