Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - 7:33 AM

By Allen Cameron
Calgary Herald


At first, Tim Hunt was skeptical.

DE Tim Hunt (left) in action for the Calgary Stampeders in CFL

The 25-year-old defensive tackle was at home in Alabama, pondering a return to Arena football after spending the 2008 season indoors, and working part-time at the local Home Depot when he received an odd inquiry through a European sport management company to play for a football team he’d never heard of — the Swarco Raiders Tirol. It’s a team based in Innsbruck, Austria — about as far away as possible from the football mainstream as you could ever imagine.


“This PRO FOOTBALL INTERNATIONAL agent in Europe somehow got my details,” said a smiling Hunt on Friday, moments after a training-camp practice with the Calgary Stampeders. “I didn’t know him at all, but he saw my highlight clip (from his days at the University of North Alabama) on YouTube, he sent me an email and it went from there.”

That innocent query led not only to Hunt’s first trip to Europe — his first flight, in fact — but also a starring role with the Raiders, who went on to claim their second straight European Football League Eurobowl crown last July with a victory over the Paris Flash in front of a record crowd of 6,500.

“I had no idea they play football in Europe,” said Hunt, who’s been one of the standout rookies on the defensive line over the past week. “I knew there was NFL Europe, but they did away with that, and I didn’t know there was still a league there. So when he hit me up, I thought he was playing with me.

DE Tim Hunt (right) says he was able to work on his pass rush
skills in Europe with an all-US college coaching staff


“I would say level of play was on a college level, a Division 1-AA college level. It’s pretty solid, and I became a better football player over there. They gave me a chance to work on my pass rushing and other things. And it was good quality coaching; the 7 coaches over there were U.S. college coaches.”

Hunt was one of five import players each team is allowed to dress, and the six-foot-five, 283-pounder was an impact player. In fact, he set a playoff record with a four-sack game against the Vienna Vikings.

In addition to improving as a football player, Hunt was able to put a little money in the bank, as his earnings were tax-free, and his living expenses were covered by the team.

“It was the greatest thing ever, it was a dream come true,” he said. “It gave me a chance to travel to Europe, a place I’ve never seen, so I hopped on it as soon as I got the offer.”


Hunt_100616.jpg
Tim Hunt at practice in CFL after spending 4 months in Europe
 
Hunt, of course, had to make some adjustments. Food, for instance — “you can’t get a steak over there,” he said. “The best food I hit over there was a burger with eggs on it; that was pretty good. The worst? Escargot. I’m not down with the snails.”

And the language — “I speak (German) very little. I can say ‘No onions.’ That’s about all I know. And dummkopf.”

But it was football, and his performance, and the confidence he gained from it, played a role in his signing with the Stampeders.

“I got an offer to go back there, but I hopped on an offer with the Stampeders,” he said. “I feel good out there; I’m learning the plays and I have to learn more, but it’s becoming natural out there for me.”





In Europe, DE Tim Hunt helped the SWARCO Raiders
capture their second Eurobowl trophy in a row



Source: cfl.ca and stampeders.com





 

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