The Munich Cowboys celebrating their German Bowl triumph (1993).
|First contested||Frankfurt, 10 November 1979|
|Number of meetings||36|
|Most wins||Braunschweig Lions (9)|
|Most recent meeting||Berlin, 11 October 2014|
|Next meeting||Berlin, 10 October 2015|
The Braunschweig Lions are the record winners of the German Bowl, with nine successful participations out of fourteen overall. The Düsseldorf Panther and the Berlin Adler both have six titles to their name, but Berlin has the best win-loss record of all clubs, 75 percent. Altogether, as of 2014, eleven clubs have won a German Bowl, while a further four clubs have reached the finals game but never won it. The most-played match up in the history of the game is the Braunschweig Lions versus the Hamburg Blue Devils, having been played six times, last in 2005.
Apart from the German Bowl, a Junior Bowl has also been contested in Germany since 1982. A Ladies Bowl was introduced in 1990. Other, related, national championship games in Germany include the German Flag Bowl (est. 2000), German Junior Flag Bowl (1999) and a German Indoor Flag Bowl (2000).
In 1979, the American Football Bundesliga, later to be renamed the German Football League, was formed, consisting of six clubs, the Frankfurter Löwen, Ansbach Grizzlies, Düsseldorf Panther, Munich Cowboys, Berlin Bears und Bremerhaven Seahawks. Of those six, the top two teams would contest the first ever German Bowl on 10 November 1979.
The early years of the league were dominated by two teams, Frankfurt and Ansbach, who met each other in the first three editions of the German Bowl. Of those, Frankfurt won the first two and Ansbach the last. The era of the Frankfurter Löwen was thereby ended and the club went defunct in the mid-1980s, while the Ansbach Grizzlies continued to be an outstanding team, playing in all of the first eight German Bowls. Unlike the first season, play-off semi finals were played in 1980 and 1981 to determined the two German Bowl contestants. From 1982, the play-offs were enlarged to include a quarter final round as well.
The 1982 season saw Ansbach repeat its title, this time against the Cologne Crocodiles. After that, the era of the Düsseldorf Panther versus Ansbach Grizzlies rivalry began, with the two teams meeting in the next four finals. Of those, the team from Düsseldorf won the 1983, 1984 and 1986 editions, while the Grizzlies earned their third championship in 1985. With the 1986 final, the golden era of the Ansbach Grizzlies ended and the club disappeared out of the top level all together by 1991. From 1986, a wild card round was introduced as well, taking the number of teams in the play-offs to twelve.
The 1987 German Bowl saw two completely new teams compete against each other, the Badener Greifs making their only appearance in the championship game to date, while the Berlin Adler won their first of, as of 2010, six national championships. In 1988, Red Barons Cologne defeated the Düsseldorf Panther in the final, while, from 1989 onwards, the Berlin Adler became the first team to win three championships in a row, all against teams from Cologne. After the 1990 season, the play-offs were reduced to eight teams again, dropping the wild card round, a system still in place as of 2010.
The Panther earned their fourth title in 1992, defeating the Munich Cowboys, which, in the following year, won the championship themselves, against Cologne Crocodiles, who suffered their fourth defeat in their fourth German Bowl. Munich's title in 1993 was to be the last occasion for the next twelve years that a team from the South would reach the final, and the last time until 2011, that a team from the South would win the championship. The Bundesliga and the German Bowl were from then on dominated by the North.
In 1994 and 1995, the Düsseldorf Panther once more won the German Bowl, with the second title won against a new force in the game in Germany, the Hamburg Blue Devils. In 1996, the Blue Devils then reversed the fortunes and defeated the Panthers in the final.
The most dominant era of any team in the sport in Germany begun in 1997, when the Braunschweig Lions reached and won the German Bowl for the first time. The Lions would play in every one of the next twelve German Bowls, up until 2008, and win seven of those. Their first tile, in 1997, was won against the Cologne Crocodiles, who were now five out five in German Bowl defeats. The following six seasons, the final was contested by the Lions and the Blue Devils on five occasions, with the Lions winning in 1998 and 1999, while the Blue Devils won 2001, 2002 and 2003. Only in 2000 did neither of those two win the Bowl, instead, the Cologne Crocodiles finally reversed their fortunes and won a championship in their sixth attempt. In between, in 1999, the Bundesliga was renamed to German Football League.
Braunschweig lost a fifth final in a row in 2004, when the Berlin Adler won their first title in 13 years. After that, the Braunschweig Lions set a new record, winning four German Bowls straight, beating four different teams in the finals. In 2005, the Blue Devils were once more the opposition, followed by two southern teams, the Marburg Mercenaries in 2006 and the Stuttgart Scorpions in 2007. The seventh title for the Lions came in 2008, against the new force of the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes.
Kiel also played in the 2009 final, losing to the Berlin Adler, before finally being successful in 2010 and winning their first title against the same team.
The German Bowl XXXIII was held on 8 October 2011 at the MDCC-Arena in Magdeburg. The 2011 season saw the end of an 18-year title drought for the south, when the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns defeated Kiel 48–44 to take out the national championship for the first time. The Unicorns repeated their 2011 title in 2012 in the highest scoring German Bowl to date winning 56:53 on a late field goal, while the 2013 title went to a resurged and renamed Braunschweig, now playing as the New Yorker Lions in a close 35:34 victory against the Dresden Monarchs in their first German Bowl appearance. Dresden missed the first extra point after their first touchdown and went on to lose on a late fumble, the only turnover of the game while driving towards good field position for a field goal. The Lions won their ninth German Bowl in 2014 with the highest-ever winning margin, defeating the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns 47–9. Schwäbisch Hall scored no points in this game after a field goal on their first possession until the fourth quarter when most of the Braunschweig starters including MVP Quarterback Casey Therriault were already off the field.
Success in American football in Germany and at the German Bowl differs hugely between the clubs from the northern and the southern division, with the south only winning seven German Bowls and the north the remaining 26. Similar, southern clubs have only made 17 appearances in the Bowl, while northern clubs have appeared 49 times. After the first three German Bowls, the final was never again contested by two southern clubs. Since the end of the golden era of the Ansbach Grizzlies in 1986, southern clubs have only made six appearances in the championship game and suffered a championship draught from 1993 to 2011.
The German Bowls since 1979:
|I||November 10, 1979||Frankfurter Löwen||Ansbach Grizzlies||14–8||Frankfurt||5,000|
|II||July 30, 1980||Frankfurter Löwen (2)||Ansbach Grizzlies (2)||21-12||Frankfurt (2)||7,000|
|III||August 5, 1981||Ansbach Grizzlies (3)||Frankfurter Löwen (3)||27-6||Cologne||11,000|
|IV||November 2, 1982||Ansbach Grizzlies (4)||Cologne Crocodiles||12-6||Essen||10,000|
|V||September 25, 1983||Düsseldorf Panther||Ansbach Grizzlies (5)||22-7||Nuremberg||7,000|
|VI||October 13, 1984||Düsseldorf Panther (2)||Ansbach Grizzlies (6)||27-13||Essen (2)||10,000|
|VII||November 12, 1985||Ansbach Grizzlies (7)||Düsseldorf Panther (3)||14-7||Cologne (2)||9,000|
|VIII||July 27, 1986||Düsseldorf Panther (4)||Ansbach Grizzlies (8)||27-14||Würzburg||10,000|
|IX||October 11, 1987||Berlin Adler||Badener Greifs||37-12||Berlin||14,000|
|X||October 15, 1988||Red Barons Cologne||Düsseldorf Panther (5)||25-20||Berlin (2)||11,000|
|XI||October 21, 1989||Berlin Adler (2)||Red Barons Cologne (2)||30-23||Nuremberg (2)||10,500|
|XII||October 20, 1990||Berlin Adler (3)||Cologne Crocodiles (2)||50-38||Düsseldorf||10,000|
|XIII||October 5, 1991||Berlin Adler (4)||Cologne Crocodiles (3)||22-21||Hamburg||13,000|
|XIV||October 3, 1992||Düsseldorf Panther (6)||Munich Cowboys||24-23||Hanover||8,750|
|XV||September 25, 1993||Munich Cowboys (2)||Cologne Crocodiles (4)||42-36 (aet)||Munich||10,100|
|XVI||September 17, 1994||Düsseldorf Panther (7)||Berlin Adler (5)||27-17||Hanau||7,862|
|XVII||September 16, 1995||Düsseldorf Panther (8)||Hamburg Blue Devils||17-10||Braunschweig||12,125|
|XVIII||October 5, 1996||Hamburg Blue Devils (2)||Düsseldorf Panther (9)||31-12||Hamburg (2)||19,700|
|XIX||October 4, 1997||Braunschweig Lions||Cologne Crocodiles (5)||26-23||Hamburg (3)||14,800|
|XX||October 3, 1998||Braunschweig Lions (2)||Hamburg Blue Devils (3)||20-14||Hamburg (4)||22,100|
|XXI||October 9, 1999||Braunschweig Lions (3)||Hamburg Blue Devils (4)||25-24||Hamburg (5)||30,400|
|XXII||October 7, 2000||Cologne Crocodiles (6)||Braunschweig Lions (4)||31-29||Braunschweig (2)||20,312|
|XXIII||October 6, 2001||Hamburg Blue Devils (5)||Braunschweig Lions (5)||31-13||Hanover (2)||23,193|
|XXIV||October 12, 2002||Hamburg Blue Devils (6)||Braunschweig Lions (6)||16-13||Braunschweig (3)||21,097|
|XXV||October 11, 2003||Hamburg Blue Devils (7)||Braunschweig Lions (7)||37-36 (aet)||Wolfsburg||20,517|
|XXVI||October 9, 2004||Berlin Adler (6)||Braunschweig Lions (8)||10-7||Braunschweig (4)||17,200|
|XXVII||October 8, 2005||Braunschweig Lions (9)||Hamburg Blue Devils (8)||31-28||Hanover (3)||19,512|
|XXVIII||October 7, 2006||Braunschweig Lions (10)||Marburg Mercenaries||31-13||Braunschweig (5)||15,897|
|XXIX||October 6, 2007||Braunschweig Lions (11)||Stuttgart Scorpions||27-6||Stuttgart||8,152|
|XXX||September 29, 2008||Braunschweig Lions (12)||Kiel Baltic Hurricanes||20-14||Frankfurt (3)||16,177|
|XXXI||October 3, 2009||Berlin Adler (7)||Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (2)||28-21||Frankfurt (4)||14,234|
|XXXII||October 9, 2010||Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (3)||Berlin Adler (8)||17-10||Frankfurt (5)||11,121|
|XXXIII||October 8, 2011||Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns||Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (4)||48-44||Magdeburg||11,711|
|XXXIV||October 13, 2012||Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (2)||Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (5)||56-53||Berlin (3)||11,242|
|XXXV||October 12, 2013||New Yorker Lions (13)||Dresden Monarchs (1)||35-34||Berlin (4)||12,157|
|XXXVI||October 11, 2014||New Yorker Lions (14)||Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (3)||47-9||Berlin (5)||12,531|
|XXXVII||October 10, 2015||Berlin (6)|
- Champions in bold.
|14||New Yorker Lions‡||9||5||.642||1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014|
|9||Düsseldorf Panther||6||3||.667||1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996|
|8||Berlin Adler||6||2||.750||1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 2004, 2009, 2010|
|8||Hamburg Blue Devils||4||4||.500||1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005|
|8||Ansbach Grizzlies||3||5||.375||1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986|
|6||Cologne Crocodiles||1||5||.167||1982, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000|
|5||Kiel Baltic Hurricanes||1||4||.200||2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012|
|3||Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns||2||1||.667||2011, 2012, 2014|
|3||Frankfurter Löwen||2||1||.667||1979, 1980, 1981|
|2||Red Barons Cologne||1||1||.500||1988, 1989|
|2||Munich Cowboys||1||1||.500||1992, 1993|
- † Bold denotes German Bowl victory.
- ‡ Known as the Braunschweig Lions from 1987 to 2010.
The host cities of the German Bowl were:
- Bowls GFL website, accessed: 29 December 2010
- GFL German Football League (German) AFVD website, accessed: 29 December 2010
- Geschichte (German) AFVD website, accessed: 29 December 2010
- Football History (German) Historic American football tables from Germany, accessed: 2 January 2010
- Unicorns gewinnen German Bowl XXXIII (German) GFL website, published: 8 October 2011, accessed: 12 October 2011
- Erfolg dank Goethe (German) Sueddeutsche Zeitung, published: 10 October 2011, accessed: 12 October 2011
- German Bowl XXXVI - Der Pressespiegel (German) football-aktuell.de, accessed: 12 October 2014
- (German) German Football League official website
- (German) German American Football Association website
- (German) Football History Historic American football tables from Germany