Germany — Bjorn Werner’s starts talking, and his voice gets louder, booming over the crowd at Deutsche Bank Park, and as the cheers rise from the fans, Werner keeps getting louder, riling the crowd up like a professional wrestler, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
A lot like Pat McAfee on ESPN’s College Gameday, actually.
Werner’s voice ends up getting drowned out at field level, and then as soon as the cheer dies down again, he’s asking for another cheer, this time from the Colts crowd in Deutsche Bank Park, asking with his hands for more and more noise as Patriots fans try to drown out the cheer.
A little more than an hour is left before the Colts take on the Patriots in Germany, and Werner is clearly in his element, on camera with the NFL Network’s M.J. Acosta-Ruiz, English broadcaster Samantha Quek and Markus Kuhn, the first German to score a touchdown in the NFL.
Werner, the former first-round edge rusher who didn’t live up to his draft position in Indianapolis, has become Germany’s version of McAfee, a beloved star across media platforms.
Asked about the comparison, Werner starts laughing, clearly flattered to be compared to his former teammate.
“Pat is doing an amazing job over there,” Werner said. “Yes, I’m involved with the TV stations in Germany, we have a podcast, ‘Football Bromance,’ it’s pretty successful. I’m just living the life after my dream, talking about football. That’s my job.”
Werner is probably best remembered in Indianapolis as the draft pick who didn’t pan out the way the Colts were hoping.
But that pick, the name of a German being called by Roger Goodell in the first round of the NFL Draft, had a lot more impact in Werner’s home country than anybody in Indianapolis realized. Without Werner, Kuhn and fellow German Sebastian Vollmer, the former Patriots offensive tackle who was also on the sidelines at Sunday’s game, playing in the NFL, the league might not be ready to put together two games in Frankfurt in 2023.
“When I grew up playing football here, nobody knew what we were,” Werner said. “Everybody thought we were ice hockey players. Now, I walk past fans, they’re asking to take my picture, it’s crazy.”
When native Germans started to make an impact in the NFL, the interest in American football in Germany began to rise.
“Sebastian Vollmer won the Super Bowl twice with the Patriots, I was a first-round pick around the same time,” Werner said. “It kind of started this whole thing a little bit. All the normal media was talking about it. … After that, every year, it grew a little bit more.”
Werner ended up being perfectly suited to become the face of the game in Germany.
Even if that wasn’t what he was planning to do. When he retired from football after just three seasons and 6.5 sacks, Werner had no idea what he was going to do.
“The career in Indianapolis wasn’t the one I was hoping for,” Werner said. “Then, it was like, ‘What do I do next?’”
Werner’s wife, Denise, is also German, and the couple decided to move back to their home country to raise the two kids they’d had in the United States.
Once he was back on German soil, Werner started doing some work as an analyst and color commentator for local German television stations, the more work he did, the more his profile grew.
Then Werner started the “Football Bromance” podcast with Patrick Esume, the European Football League commissioner, in 2019, and his star doubled in size, the same way “The Pat McAfee Show” made the former Colts punter into a household name.
“Football Bromance” became a TV show in 2020, live on YouTube and Twitch, then turned into a company with more than 3 million subscribers, seven on-air talents and aired over eight formats. Football Bromance employees were all over the sidelines at Deutsche Bank Park before Sunday’s game, doing everything from phtoographing to analysis.
Werner’d come along at exactly the right time, filling the void in German media for a personality who knew the sport of American football.
Werner doesn’t look much like he did in his Colts days. The shaved head and bushy beard has been replaced by perfectly coiffed hair, a well-groomed beard and a flashy sportcoat, and he spent the pregame before Colts-Patriots walking back and forth across the field from German television to the NFL Network and back again, filming spots with the German kids puppet, Woozle Goozle, then heading back to the NFL Network international set with Acosta-Ruiz, filming spots that were broadcast inside the stadium.
He still can’t believe this is the way his life is gone.
“It’s crazy what happened here,” Werner said.
Maybe Werner’s NFL career didn’t go the way he planned it.
But the football life he’s had after his playing career ended has been better than he could have ever dreamed.
Source : IndyStar