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1991-2003 Barcelona Dragons

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World League of American Football (1991-1992)
World League (1995-1997)
NFL Europe (1998-2003)

Born: 1990 – WLAF founding franchise.
Died: 2003 – The Dragons cease operations.

Stadiums:

Team Colors: Dark Green, Scarlet & Yellow

Owners:

 

The Barcelona Dragons were a founding franchise in the NFL-backed World League of American Football (1991-1992), which sought to serve as both a developmental league for the NFL and a marketing mechanism to extend the NFL brand into European markets.  The original concept saw a mix of European (Barcelona, Frankfurt & London) franchises with North American franchises.

The NFL pulled the plug on the WLAF after two seasons in September 1992.  But the league was re-organized as the Europe-only “World League” in 1995 and the Barcelona Dragons returned to action after a two-year hiatus.  In 1998 the World League was re-branded as NFL Europe.  The Dragons played nine seasons in the re-booted league before going out of business after the 2003 season.

All told, the Dragons played eleven seasons and made four trips to the World Bowl championship game, winning their lone title at World Bowl ’97.

Former Boston College head coach Jack Bicknell was the Dragons’ only head coach for their 11-year history and the team employed quite a few former Boston College Eagles over the years, including 1985 Outland Trophy winner Mike Ruth, who played for the 1991 and 1992 Dragons after his NFL career failed to pan out.

Other notable players included ex-Penn State defensive lineman Bruce Clark, the #4 overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft, who finished his career with Barcelona in 1991.  Former Notre Dame quarterback Tony Rice, who led the Fighting Irish to the national championship in 1988, played for the Dragons in 1991 and 1992 but could not unseat ex-Rutgers signal caller Scott Erney for the starting job.  Former Temple running back Paul Palmer, an NFL 1st round draft bust in 1987, played for the Dragons in 1991 and 1992.

The Dragons – and the World League’s – most notorious player was former UConn linebacker Eric Naposki.  Naposki, who kicked around the NFL briefly in the late 1980’s as an undrafted free agent, was Barcelona’s leading tackler in 1991.  He played the 1991 & 1992 seasons during the WLAF era and later returned to play for the Dragons again in 1996 and 1997.  In 2012, Naposki was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 15-year old murder-for-hire of Bill McLaughlin in Newport Beach, California in December 1994.  The murder went unsolved for 15 years before Naposki and a female accomplice were arrested.  Chillingly, Naposki continued to play for the Dragons for two seasons after committing the killing.

 

==Barcelona Dragons Games on Fun While It Lasted==

 Year Date Opponent Score Program Other
1991 3/24/1991 vs. New York/New Jersey Knights W 19-7 Video
1991 6/2/1991 @ Birmingham Fire W 10-3 Program
1991 6/9/1991 @ London Monarchs L 21-0 Video
1992 5/23/1992 @ Orlando Thunder L 13-10 Video
1996 4/21/1996 @ Scottish Claymores L 23-13 Program

 

 

==YouTube==

June 9, 1991 – The Dragons face the London Monarchs in World Bowl I before 61,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kInsYDY1l8I

 

==Links==

WLAF/NFL Europe Media Guides

WLAF/NFL Europe Programs

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Written by andycrossley

March 14th, 2014 at 4:20 pm