American Football in Brazil

By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter

RJ Imperadores (gray) playing São Paulo Storm (blue) in November 2008 at the Sorocaba Bowl, photo by RJ Imperadores.

RJ Imperadores (gray) playing São Paulo Storm (blue) in November 2008 at the Sorocaba Bowl, photo by RJ Imperadores.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil is known internationally as “País do Futebol”. Its national team is the biggest winner in the sport’s history, with five World Cup trophies to its credit.

When the subject is American Football, however, things are different. Brazil has no tradition in the sport, and the popularity of the oval shaped ball was practically non-existent until 1992, when ESPN TV started broadcasting NFL matches. Little by little, national interest grew, due in part to the powerful voice, charisma and dedication of the channel’s announcer, André José Adler.

In 1998, while living in the U.S. and working for ESPN, André founded Redzone List, the best (and first) Portuguese language internet discussion forum on American Football. Today it has more than 2,500 members – and counting.

With the help of the Redzone List, a handful of enthusiasts started talking about playing the sport in Brazil. With time, amateur teams started popping up around the country. Whenever he had a chance, Adler supported Brazil by talking about the teams and announcing their matches’ results during NFL transmissions.

Adler’s love for the sport and enthusiasm for the Brazilian players caused NFL fans to name him the country’s American Football ambassador. Last year, while visiting Brazil, Adler was honored at São Paulo’s Ibirapuera Stadium with a match called “Adler Bowl”.

When Adler moved back to Brazil, he witnessed how much the scene had grown, with tournaments such as the Third Pantanal Bowl (the competition’s trophy is Troféu André José Adler) and the Tenth Carioca Bowl (played in the sand without helmets or pads).

After the first fully equipped match in Brazil in 2008 (Curitiba Brown Spiders versus Barigui Crocodiles, in Curitiba), André met Mario Lewandowksi, São Paulo Storm’s president, and Flavio Cardia, who represents Rio de Janeiro Imperadores. Together they decided it was time to step up their game. Brazil needed a National Tournament: played in stadiums, with helmets, safety gear and capable of attracting spectators, sponsors and media. And so Torneio Touchdown was born. The first edition of the tournament will take place this year.

André Adler with the Cuiabá Arsenal team in June 2009, after they claimed the André José Adler Trophy on the 3rd Pantanal Bowl, photo by Junior Silgueiro.

André Adler with the Cuiabá Arsenal team in June 2009, after they claimed the André José Adler Trophy on the Third Pantanal Bowl, photo by Junior Silgueiro.

Eight teams from across Brazil will take part: Rio de Janeiro Imperadores, São Paulo Storm, Cuiabá Arsenal, Joinville Gladiators, Sorocaba Vipers, Curitiba Brown Spiders, Barigui Crocodiles (Curitiba) and Tubarões do Cerrado (Brasília).

The Marvelous City has more than fifteen American Football teams, but all of them play in the sand without pads or helmets. The Rio de Janeiro Imperadores were created in January 2008 and are the first Carioca team to play on grass. They chose the name “Imperadores” as a tribute to the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Royal Family from Portugal in Brazil. The team trains every Sunday at the Quinta da Boa Vista park (in São Cristóvão), where the Royal Family lived in the nineteenth century.

The tournament kicks off on August 9, when the Gladiators meet the Brown Spiders in Joinville, Santa Catarina. The first match in Rio will be on August 29, in the Figueira de Melo Stadium, located in São Cristóvão, home of the Carioca soccer team of the same name. There the RJ Imperadores play São Paulo Storm.

Between the rivalry between Rio and São Paulo and the match’s status as an historic milestone (it will be the first ever American Football match in Rio to use NFL-level equipment) makes the game a must-see for anyone interested in the sport.

Next Wednesday, The Gringo Times will publish an exclusive interview with André José Adler – the man behind Torneio Touchdown and one of the most important names of American Football in Brazil.

12 Responses to "American Football in Brazil"

  1. ben  August 5, 2009 at 7:00 AM

    hi guys, if you’re interested in reporting some other gringo sports, rugby is getting gradually bigger here in brazil. a local game for those in rio – this weekend the time of Niteroi (just across the bridge) will be playing SPAC from São Paulo in the Brazilian National Championship Super 8

  2. John B Smith  August 5, 2009 at 8:13 AM

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Kosiski  August 5, 2009 at 12:47 PM

    Great to see this sport growing up!

  4. Proença  August 6, 2009 at 12:45 PM

    Great Sport and Great Organization in Brazil. Congratulations!!!

  5. James Ferreira  August 7, 2009 at 6:57 AM

    The reporter bought Andre Adler’s twisted version of the truth. What about Marco Alfaro? Ivan Zimmermann? Roberto Figueiroa? What about the guys who work at ESPN nowadays? What about TV Bandeirantes? All these were of great value and importance for football growth in Brazil, and they were not even mentioned. Take care with the self promotional b… s…!

  6. Fernando  August 7, 2009 at 7:22 PM

    The reporter only mentions facts, Doesn’t list everyone who has ever broadcast football games in Brazil. Is Mr. Ferreira some Adler foe?

  7. sam smith  December 30, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Great for Brazil. I hear they are growing. it will take time to build a farm system( pee wee football, hs football, college football, pro football) Also baseball is gaining ground slowly in Brazil courtesy of Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I look to visit in 2012 & possibly move down there in 2013.

  8. Stephen Sloan  March 6, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    @sam smith, I’m working on a trip to Brazil in July 2012 that will bring 20-25 High School football players. We will play 2 exhibition games and work with the youth to try to get a league going. When and what city will you be at. We are looking at the São Paulo area. If you are interest in getting more info, please email me at flgator196@gmail.com
    God Bless, Steve

  9. Zach  April 19, 2012 at 11:35 PM

    This will be great. Not only is it internationally poularizing the support but this could also serve a purpose like the Canadian football league where a lot of American football players go who couldn’t make the nfl but r still great players

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