In American Football

Updated on November 6, 2001

IN 2001
Former Wakanohana wraps up Japanese season
On Nov 5, Masaru Hanada ended his 1st season in the Japan's X-League. Since his first game on Sept 17, he gradually increased playing time. In the beginning, he only performed one play. But in the final game, he was on the field for 5 min 30 sec. His team also had a whopping win of 55 to 0 over Renown. However, since his team could not advance to the Final 6, his season ended there. Hanada plans to try out for NFL next year.

Former Wakanohana signs with Onward
It was learned on Aug. 1 that former sumo yokozuna Wakanohana had registered with an X-League team Onward Skylarks. He can play in the league when the season begins in September.

Asahi Brewery clinches Rice Ball
The national championship was competed on Jan. 3 at Tokyo Dome between corporate and collegiate champions. 30,000 fans looked on. In the first half, Asahi Brewery Challengers led Hosei University Tomahawks 28 to 0. In the end, the Challengers overwhelmed Hosei 52 to 13. MVP Tamon Nakamura who is retiring touched down 3 times.

IN 1998
4th NFL Europe tryouts
The tryouts were held in Yokohama on Dec.4, and Dec. 5 in Osaka. In all, more than 40 players turned up. Most of them were those who's playing in Japan's X-league and collegiate league. NFL Europe President, Oliver Luck not only checked how the players responded to the ball and their physical abilities, he went up to the quarterbacks and tested their ability in speaking English. In the end, 4 players were selected to play in next season's NFL Europe.

First IFAF president is Japanese
Eiji Sasada was elected International American Football Federation's first president on Sept. 6 in Italy. Sasada is an executive member of the Japan American Football Association. He was appointed the day the international federation was launched. Along with Japan, 21 countries have become members. At the same time, it was confirmed that the first World Cup will be held in Italy next year.

Euro Bowl '98-- Japan vs. Finland
For the 2nd straight day, an American football game was held at the Tokyo Dome--that's following the American Bowl the previous day. Japan's national team took on 3 time European champion, Finland. Japan overwhelmed the Finnish team 39 to 7 in the first ever Euro Bowl in this country. This certainly gave Japan confidence in trying out in the first World Cup scheduled in Sicily in June 1999.
Michiyo's Note: I was amazed Japan can play American football so well, and it's the first time a Japanese national team was formed!

American Bowl '98-- Green Bay Packards vs. Kansas City Chiefs
In the 9th NFL game held in Tokyo on August 2, the Chiefs took the lead. In the 1st quarter, they completed 2 touch downs after 2 turnovers. But the Packards caught up by the end of the 2nd quarter. In the 3rd, the Chiefs again took the lead. In the 4th quarter, Brett Conway scored to take the game to a sudden death round. Last season's Super Bowl team, the Packards proved victorious when Ryan Longwell kicked in a goal 10 minutes into the overtime period. It ended 27 to 24. Packards Glyn Milburn was named MVP of the game.
Michiyo's Note: Seeing superstar and 3 time MVP Brett Favre was very special even though my knowledge of American football is very limited. It was too bad he did not play again after the 1st quarter. By the way, 2 Japanese each were on the both teams' roster. Masato Itai was the only won who got to play, and he was received with great cheers from the 42,000 spectators.

IN 1996
American Bowl '96--San Diego Chargers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Three Japanese who play in the World League made their debut in NFL,the USA's National Football League on July 28, 1996. That's in the game between the San Diego Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was held at the Tokyo Dome in the preseason match of American Bowl. They all were there as honorary captains. Takuro Abe and Shigemasa Ito appeard in 3 plays for the Steelers, but had no chance to touch the ball. In the 4th quarter, Takahiro Ikenoue came in to play for the Chargers. The crowd of 40,163 roared with joy to see him. The game ended with the Chargers overwhelming the Steelers 20 to 10. Ikenoue mentioned after the game that he intends to play again in the World League in the coming season.

Back to Index on Other Sports