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SI.com's Europe Week begs questions about football's place abroad

We take a look at Bjoern Werner's interview with SI.com and wonder about football overseas.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like on of Trent Baalke's GM strategies is to find a market inefficiency and exploit it - or, at the very least, an underutilized strategy that can be embraced to good effect. Please, insert your Moneyball joke of choice here, preferably something to do with Jed York ("when Jed hears the term Moneyball, all he thinks about are stadium revenues!").

But, the point is true. Just today, we had a discussion in the Golden Nuggets about the viability of the redshirt strategy, most notably in light of Marcus Lattimore's remarks that he was surprised to be drafted after his knee injuries. Additionally, Baalke clearly stocks up on draft picks, trading as much as he can to increase the amount of picks he can use either in future trades or for selecting players.

Well, another strategy seems to come into light, especially in juxtaposition with SI.com's ongoing "Europe Week." I'm thinking of the Lawrence Okoye and Jarryd Hayne strategy - the "steal-all-the-really-talented-athletes-from-other-countries" strategy. Similarly, we can debate how effective this has bee, but it strikes me that even if Okoye and Hayne don't work out, the idea still makes a lot of sense. The fact of the matter is that American football is a small sport. That notion seems preposterous to us, since many of us live in America; yet, should we ask our friends overseas, I'm sure they will talk about how vibrant, but small, the community of NFL fans is in their respective countries. American football has a presence in many countries, but does not even hold close to the same number of fans as soccer or baseball on an international basis. Heck, even in the United States, we are developing a greater awareness for the international appeal of soccer. The recent US Women's national team win over Japan was the most watched soccer match in American history.

So, in this light, I would recommend checking out Jenny Vrentas' interview of Bjoern Werner, the first German player to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Werner plays outside linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts, and his avenue to the draft was through a prep school and then a football scholarship at FSU.

But, as Vrentas mentions in the interview, the program that got Werner to his prep school is now gone. And though Werner points out that there are five German players in the NFL currently and that all five of them reached the NFL in different ways, it is still troubling to learn that avenues for German players are being cut off. The fact of the matter is that other sports, I think about baseball in particular, have been substantially bolstered by international players. We only have to look to the Bay Area, in fact: the San Francisco Giants have benefited from Nori Aoki's tenure in the outfield, and for a while the Oakland A's had the exciting Yoenis Cespedes patrolling the outfield.

I don't know how the NFL could grow the sport internationally. They've certainly tried in the past, and we all now how NFL Europe went. I remember talking to a German exchange student who was studying in the US a couple of years ago, and she mentioned that the biggest barrier for her with respect to football might be all the flag-waving and troop-marching before the game. A pretty weak reason, I think, but maybe there's something to it. The NFL has made itself sort of AMERICA! actualized, and I'm not sure how well that will export.

Make sure, by the way, that you check out some of the other work that the Vrentas article links to in a table on the side - there is some interesting stuff going around in Europe Week.