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The Rhein Fire were a professional American football team in NFL Europa, formerly the World League of American Football. Established in Germany in 1995, the franchise resurrected the name of the former Birmingham Fire team which was active during the 1991-1992 WLAF seasons.

The team was based in Düsseldorf (and early on was occasionally referred to in the U.S. as the Düsseldorf Fire), playing its games in LTU Arena since 2005 season. Prior to this the team played in Arena AufSchalke in nearby city Gelsenkirchen while LTU Arena was being built. The team shared facilities with the football (soccer) club Fortuna Düsseldorf. The Fire also hosted the 2005 World Bowl, where the Amsterdam Admirals upset the then-defending champion Berlin Thunder.

The Fire had been one of NFL Europa's most successful teams as far as fan appeal and competitively on the field. The team is based in an area of Germany that does not have a local Bundesliga team and American Football has become increasingly popular. The team itself has played for five World Bowl championships throughout its history, winning in 1998 (over the Frankfurt Galaxy) and 2000 (over the Scottish Claymores).

As with all teams in NFL Europa, the roster of players is predominantly comprised of American "developmental" players assigned by the member teams of the National Football League.

Rhein Fire - Team History


Founded: 1995

Stadium: LTU Arena

Rhein Fire is a 'second-generation' NFL Europe League team, joining the league along with Scotland and Amsterdam in 1995.

Although the first two seasons ended with a losing record - 4-6 in 1995 and 3-7 in 96 - the team increased overall attendance in its second year from 60,000 to 90,000.

In 1997, with Alexander Leibkind in his second season as General Manager and Galen Hall in his third year as head coach, the club posted a 7-3 overall record. The Fire finished as regular season champions and earned their first World Bowl berth, losing to the Dragons in Barcelona. Total attendance increased to 108,000.

In 1998, Rhein Fire finished second after the regular season with a 7-3 record and reached the World Bowl for the second consecutive year. With a 34-10 victory over the Frankfurt Galaxy, coach Hall and his team won their first NFL Europe League championship. Attendance at the Rheinstadion went up again to 127,500, including a record crowd of 41,212 against the Galaxy in Week 10.

In 1999 the Fire opened its defence of the World Bowl with two successive defeats and three losses in the first four games before returning World Bowl '98 MVP quarterback Jim Arellanes turned their season around. He inspired victory in five of the last six games and running back Kenny Bynum rushed for 960 yards, but the Fire missed out on the chance to defend their title at home by a tie-breaker. Home attendance figures rose again to a total of 142,828 and the Fire offense scored a league-high 286 points.

Fire reclaimed the World Bowl in 2000 with a narrow 13-10 victory over the Scottish Claymores in Frankfurt. Quarterback Danny Wuerffel threw for a new league record 25 touchdowns before graduating to the Green Bay Packers, while the Fire led the way as an average of 34,628 fans watched their home games in 2000. Total attendance stood at 173,140 at the Rheinstadion.

The Fire headed into the 2001 season with former defensive coordinator Pete Kuharchek at the helm as only the second head coach in team history. Kuharchek led the team to a 5-5 record, while the Fire increased total attendances for the sixth time in a row to 175,050, including a new NFLEL regular season record of 51,719 spectators for the Week 9 clash with Frankfurt Galaxy.

The 2002 season brought down the curtain on the Rheinstadion, which was demolished after staging World Bowl X on Saturday, June 22. A record crowd of 53,109 fans celebrated a giant farewell party in the stands. On the field, Rhein lost 20-26 to the Berlin Thunder. During the season, the Fire posted a league-leading 7-3 record.

The 2003 season saw Rhein enter the brand new Arena AufSchalke, home of Germany's famous soccer club Schalke 04. Rhein football attracted 171,088 fans (average: 34,218). The Fire celebrated reaching another World Bowl but lost 35-16 to the Frankfurt Galaxy in the final.

The 2004 campaign marked the final season for the Rhein Fire at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen. Rhein Fire had - in front of a total of 105,361 fans - a losing season (3-7), but successfully hosted World Bowl XII.

In 2005, the team returned to D|sseldorf under the leadership of the new General Manager Sammy Schmale and hosted another successful league final as more than 35,000 fans attended Yello Strom World Bowl XIII on Saturday June 11.

After winning three games in 2005, head coach Pete Kuharchek resigned and was replaced on November 2 by former Berlin Thunder defensive coordinator Jim Tomsula.

The Fire made a strong start to the 2006 campaign, winning its opening four games. But a disappointing second half of the season saw Rhein finish with a 6-4 record - one game out of a place in the World Bowl. In January, 2007, Tomsula took a job with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers and was replaced by World Bowl winner and former NFLE Coach of the Year Rick Lantz.


Rhein Fire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rhein Fire
Year Founded1995
Year Retired2007
Home FieldLTU Arena
CityDüsseldorf, Germany
Team ColorsMaroon, Black, Gold, White
Head CoachRick Lantz
World Bowls (2)


Head coaches

Notable players

Other notable personnel

  • Oliver Luck - General Manager 1995, became league president the following year.


Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties

SeasonWLTFinishPlayoff results
Rhein Fire (World League)
19954605th League--
19963706th League--
19977301st LeagueLost World Bowl V (Dragons)
Rhein Fire (NFL Europe)
19987301st LeagueWon World Bowl VI (Galaxy)
19996403rd League--
20007301st LeagueWon World Bowl VIII (Claymores)
20015503rd League--
20027301st LeagueLost World Bowl X (Thunder)
20036402nd LeagueLost World Bowl XI (Galaxy)
20043705th League--
20053706th League--
20066403rd League--
Rhein Fire (NFL Europa)
20074604th League--
Totals70650(including playoffs)

External links

1995 Results, Stats & Roster
1996 Results, Stats & Roster
1997 Results, Stats & Roster
1998 Results, Stats & Roster
1999 Results, Stats & Roster
2000 Results, Stats & Roster
2001 Results, Stats & Roster
2002 Results, Stats & Roster
2003 Results, Stats & Roster
2004 Results, Stats & Roster
2005 Results, Stats & Roster
2006 Results, Stats & Roster
2007 Results, Stats & Roster

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