European Spotlight: Senior Airman Jordan Gourley
What position do you play?
I’m a strong-side defensive end.
Is that your natural position?
In prep school, I played wide receiver and cornerback. I was a lot faster and I was skinny. When I graduated prep school, I only weighed 210 pounds … Now, I’m about 270.
How tall are you?
You must have missed playing football.
I always wanted to play again. I never thought that was the end of me playing. I wasn’t really concerned about the level. I just enjoyed playing.
There’s a cap on how many Americans can participate on the team?
The German football league is the major league. Right now, we’re in the third division down. But every division from the top down is allotted six roster spots for Americans. But out of the six, only four Americans can dress for every game.
How would you gauge the level among the German players?
There’s some really strong talent among the German guys. At our level, not as much, I don’t think. There’s one team in particular that’s full of Germans. I don’t even know if they have any Americans. They’re a team from Jenna. But they’re tough, they’re big and strong … There’s German guys who have been playing for 12 years.
What do you think is the biggest weakness of the Germans in terms of being a good football player?
I think the general knowledge of the game. I think everybody is still in a learning phase, even our coaches. We have outstanding coaches. They know the game. But, just like the players, every game and every practice is a new learning experience for these guys …
How far do you think American football can go here in Germany? Do you think it is something that could really take off?
Oh yeah. Absolutely. I don’t know if it will ever overtake soccer because soccer is popular around the world. But American football is a big deal in America, and I think some day they can have a real professional organization here where there’s big incomes. I think it will take a little time.
Is the game any different?
It’s a little different. There’s a little bit that needs to be done. I don’t know if the Germans are quite as aggressive. It’s a much friendlier game in Germany than it is in America. The guys on the field? There’s very little yapping and hitting and punching and all that stuff that goes on in the States. It’s a friendlier game. But fundamentally it’s pretty much the same.
Are you a Steelers fan?
We’ll try not to hold that against you.
Senior Airman Jordan Gourley
Job: Munitions system apprentice, also known as an "ammo troop," with the 435th Munitions Squadron at Ramstein Air Base
Background: Plays for the Kaiserslautern Pikes, a German semi-professional American football team. He was recruited by several Division II colleges out of high school and chose to join the Air Force about six years ago. He first found out about the German league through a flier.
Interview conducted by Scott Schonauer, who grew up near Cleveland and is a diehard Browns fan. Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org..