National player trio make league history
March 21, 2006 - National Football League Europa (NFLE) News Release
FOR the first time in league history, three home-grown national players have earned NFL Europe League Player of the Week prizes following their outstanding efforts in Week One.
French linebacker PHILIPPE GARDENT became the first national player to win the Defensive Player of the Week prize as he recorded a team-high 12 tackles during the Cologne Centurions' 14-10 defeat of the Hamburg Sea Devils.
The fourth-year linebacker said: "This is really just my second season in NFL Europe because I was hurt in 2003 and 2004 but I am beginning to understand everything that happens on the field. I feel I am a much better player this year and it felt great to help the team get off to such a good start in Hamburg."
Japanese wide receiver NORIAKI KINOSHITA, now in his second season in NFL Europe, was named Special Teams Player of Week One as he scored on a 59-yard punt return to spark a late Amsterdam Admirals revival during a 33-29 loss to the Berlin Thunder.
The native of Osaka, Japan, also returned 3 kickoffs for 56 yards, added 1 reception for 13 yards and gained 2 yards on a wide receiver reverse.
Rookie Mexican wide receiver JUAN WONG was chosen as National Player of the Week after he caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from fellow wideout Chris Samp on the Rhein Fire's first play of the new season.
Wong, who ended the night with a team-high 66 receiving yards on 2 catches during Rhein's 10-6 victory over Frankfurt, said: "I just ran my route but I didn't know I was so wide open. I just saw the ball and caught it. That is what I am supposed to do - I do this for a living now."
Offensive Player of the Week honors went to Berlin Thunder quarterback LANG CAMPBELL, who was allocated to NFL Europe by the Cleveland Browns.
Campbell looked a model of efficiency during his team's 33-29 defeat of the Amsterdam Admirals, completing 16 of 26 passes (61.5 percent) for 139 yards and 1 touchdown. His touchdown strike covering 27 yards to wide receiver Rich Musinski gave Berlin an early 14-0 lead.
With the Thunder needing to run out the clock inside the two-minute warning, Campbell came up with one of his most important throws of the evening as he calmly hit wide receiver Lance Moore for a 13-yard gain on third-and-four. That allowed Berlin to run the remaining seconds off the clock and emerge victorious.
After the opening round of NFLEL games, Campbell leads the league with an 88.5 passer rating but aims to improve in the coming weeks, stating: "It's always nice to win the first one and set the tone for the rest of the season. I thought we did a lot of good things. I saw a lot of positives out there, but there are some mistakes that we need to fix. There is room for improvement."
NFL EUROPE LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDS - WEEK 1
OFFENSIVE LANG CAMPBELL QB Berlin
DEFENSIVE PHILIPPE GARDENT LB Cologne
SPECIAL TEAMS NORIAKI KINOSHITA WR Amsterdam
NATIONAL JUAN WONG WR Rhein
• Discuss this story on the National Football League Europa message board...
National Football League Europa Stories from March 21, 2006
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.