Munich is in NFL fever. After the big pre-party on Saturday, the time has finally come: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks are playing their first game on German soil. Munich and Germany are ready - and how. Five hours before the game begins, the subway is bursting at the seams. Again and again the driver has to point out that people have to move even closer together. "It's koan kindergarten here, now it's getting together," he warns again and again. The mood is fantastic, although the first after-effects of the party days can be felt. "We've been here since Friday and I've hardly slept so far. I can't stand much longer," says a Seahawks fan to his buddy.
The NFL has made a big splash at the Allianz Arena. Several food courts cater for the fans, and hours before the start of the game, thousands of supporters are waiting in front of the NFL shop for the opportunity to buy fan articles. Visitors can try the rookie test at several stations. High jump, long jump, precision throws, catching balls - on the esplanade the followers are involved. In the 40-yard dash, a speed test, two fathers race each other – with a stroller. Bundesliga legend and Seahawks fan Claudio Pizarro tries his hand at field goal - and only succeeds on the second try. On a stage, a moderator is looking for the supporters of all 32 NFL teams, after a few minutes he has found the last one with a fan of the Washington Commanders. Thousands of fans are there long before the game starts, and the arena only opens two hours before kick-off. Many of them are without tickets, are mainly there for the event.
The calm before the storm reigns in the stadium. The coaches of the teams prepare the players' benches. Unlike soccer, the teams are on opposite sides. This is mainly for logistical reasons. The cadres of the teams comprise 53 men, only eleven of them are on the field at the same time. Both teams, each with around 150 people, arrived with supervisors, trainers and other team members.
In the press room, on the other hand, there is already a lot of activity, and a lot of English is spoken. Verizon, Fox Sports, the NFL Network, they've all made the journey across the pond. The first game in Germany is a major event, media representatives from Italy, Great Britain, France, Denmark and Spain are on site. Mike Dugall is standing in the stadium and is speechless. "The seats are incredible, you're almost on the back row in NFL stadiums," said the reporter, who follows the Seahawks at every game for sports website The Athletic. In Munich, he sits on the halfway line, just 20 meters from the Buccaneers' bench. He is at least as enthusiastic about Munich. "The mood here over the past few days has been great - and so has the beer," he says with a grin. Meanwhile, Jason Myers is also on the field. The Seattle Seahawks kicker is the first player to step onto the turf and look at the arena.
It takes a little while until the right atmosphere sets in, but then it escalates. Tom Brady takes to the pitch at 2:33 p.m. to warm up, running from one end zone to the other and really heating up the fans. In any case, a lot revolves around the superstar who is the face of the Buccaneers and also the NFL in Germany. Brady is on almost every poster and in every spot on the video walls in the stadium, where he greets the fans with a "Let's go Germany".
The fans, on the other hand, sometimes seem a bit overwhelmed with the Americanization of a sport. Most of them wave shyly at the "Fan Cam" as it pans through the arena. Look a little irritated when a delivery man brings a package to the referee that contains the ball. Then rather the well-known La Ola, which sloshes through the arena lap after lap.
It's loud throughout the game in the stadium. Although it's officially a Bucs home game, Seahawks fans have the upper hand. But Seattle can't get a foot on the ground in the first half, Brady shines and Tampa Bay leads 14-0 at the break. But then it gets really loud again in the arena when the players of FC Bayern Munich are faded in. A piercing whistle greets the Bavarians, which should not have happened to Thomas Müller and Co. that often. "The atmosphere was electrifying," Todd Bowles said in praise of the sold-out stadium after the game. The fans were outstanding. "Just kind of a lot of Seahawks supporters," says Bowles.
Brady remains something of a solo entertainer, throwing another touchdown in the second half, even playing at the pass receiver position once - a trick play that ends in a ball intercepted by Seattle.
Eight minutes before the end, the Seahawks fans go crazy. Geno Smith finds Tyler Lockett in the end zone, it's the Seahawks' first touchdown, which they quickly follow up with a second. But in the end it wasn't enough, Brady and the Buccaneers won 21:16 (read the match report here). Shortly before the end, "Oh, how nice" echoes through the Allianz Arena for a few minutes, then the DJ starts singing "Sweet Caroline". Brady takes the time for some fans, snaps selfies with them, shakes hands - then the superstar is gone in the dressing room. Will you see him again in Germany? Brady is 45 and the end of his career is just around the corner. But never say never about the quarterback, he's still one of the NFL's elite. "I don't know what the future holds, it's been a long journey," says Brady. First he wants to enjoy the moment, because he will remember this game for a long time. "It was one of the best experiences I've ever had - and that's saying a lot when you've played 23 years in the league." When the fans sang "Sweet Caroline" and "Country Roads" at the end, it was "epic".
But the party is not over when the game ends. Sebastian Vollmer and Markus Kuhn, two former German NFL professionals, initiate the after-show party and raffle tickets for future NFL games in Germany. The next one will be in Frankfurt next year, and the Main metropolis can already look forward to a huge festival.