By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO -André José Adler is popularly known as the ambassador of American Football in Brazil. Former ESPN announcer of NFL games, Adler is one of the country’s biggest enthusiasts. In the second of our two-part interview, he spoke to The Gringo Times about his experience in Hungary, challenges facing US football in Brazil and his plans for the future.
André, although you grew up in Brazil, you were born in Budapest. In 2006 you moved back to Hungary, and once there, you also helped the growth of the local football scene. How were your professional experiences in Hungary?
Fate had it that I would be providing color commentary to the first College Football season shown there.
I also got involved with MAFL, the Hungarian American Football League, whose president Laszlo Toth is a man with a long-term vision and huge passion for the sport, and devised a thirty-minute magazine show, “Touchdown”, showing highlights of games played by the Hungarian teams, and featuring the contributions of Hungarian Americans to the NFL: George Halas, Don Shula, Pete Gogolak, Larry Csonka and many others.
I produced, directed and presented 25 of those shows in the 2007 and the 2008 seasons on the cable channel Sport Klub.
We organized a cocktail party at the American Embassy in Hungary. Ambassador April H. Foley received representatives of all teams at her official residence and presented two Sports Diplomacy diplomas. The most significant of all was the official American recognition to the people who struggle to practice and promote the American sport which shows teamwork in its most dramatic form. The event was also featured in my show and Ambassador Foley granted me a delightful interview.
The dream of a well-structured national tournament has existed ever since the oval-shaped ball started being thrown around in Brazil. What were the biggest difficulties overcome in order to make Torneio Touchdown come true?
I consider all the guys playing in the eight teams in this tournament real heroes. It not only takes a lot of training so that the games are competitive, but those who study and or have day jobs must become overnight public relations managers, organizers, advertisers, buyers and sellers.
Getting playing fields is not easy. Just making stadium managers understand that football hurts the field less than soccer is a task. Takes them a while to realize that we don’t kick the grass as much…
What are your next plans to help continue the expansion of US football in Brazil? How far do you think the Brazilian scene can go?
Well, I will be calling some of the Torneio Touchdown games for audiences in the stadium (some also on the internet) beginning with Barigui Crocodiles at Curitiba Brown Spiders this weekend. Silvio Santos Jr. will be providing color commentary. I think we have to bring more people in to watch live football so they can see how much fun it is.
I will also do some features on many of those games for ESPN´s “The Book is on the Table” show. Eventually I hope to produce a Brazilian version of the “Touchdown” show we did in Hungary. Of course, I will continue supporting football in any capacity.
The Brazilian scene can go far as the spirit of collaboration between local and regional leagues. AFAB, the national league, is working more closely with them than ever before. As more and more people are discovering how much fun it is to play and watch football I believe it will become a respected amateur sport in Brazil.
The Barigui Crocodiles has just exported a linebacker to the US. Guilherme Salvatti Moreira has joined the Pioneers at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. I would not rule out the hope that many have to make American football a part of the professional sports picture in Brazil. But we have to patiently play one down at a time, so we can all keep scoring touchdowns!