Düsseldorf Panther

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Düsseldorf Panther
Founded 1978
League German Football League
Based in Düsseldorf, Germany
Stadium VfL Benrath Stadium
Colors Red and Black
Head coach Pepijn Mendonca
Championships Eurobowl: 1995
German Bowl: 1983, 1984, 1986, 1992, 1994, 1995
NFL Bowl (Germany): 1980, 1981
Junior Bowl: 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010
Division titlesGFL North: 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1996
Website www.duesseldorfpanther.de/

The Düsseldorf Panther are an American football team from Düsseldorf, Germany. The club is the oldest exant American football club in Europe, having been formed on 1 May 1978. [1]

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Düsseldorf Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Düsseldorf is the capital and second-largest city of the most populous German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne, as well as the seventh-largest city in Germany. with a population of 617,280. At the confluence of the Rhine and its tributary Düssel, the city lies in the centre of both the Rhine-Ruhr and the Rhineland Metropolitan Regions with the Cologne Bonn region to its south and the Ruhr to its north. Most of the city lies on the right bank of the Rhine. The city is the largest in the German Low Franconian dialect area. "Dorf" meaning "village" in German, the "-dorf" suffix is unusual in the German-speaking area for a settlement of Düsseldorf's size.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.


The Panthers are one of the most successful American football clubs in Germany, having won six German Bowls as well as becoming the first-ever German team to win the Eurobowl in 1995. Having won its 15th Junior Bowl in 2010, the club has the most successful youth department in the sport in Germany. [2]

German Bowl

The German Bowl is the annual national championship game in the sport of American football in Germany. It is contested by the two best teams of the German Football League.


The Eurobowl is both the final game and the trophy of the BIG6 European Football League (BIG6), a European American football contest. Before 2014, it was the final game of the European Football League (EFL).

The German Junior Bowl, usually only referred to as Junior Bowl, is the annual national championship game for junior teams in the sport of American football in Germany. It is contested by the two best teams of the GFL Juniors.


Dusseldorf Panther game, 2008. DP in Aktion.png
Düsseldorf Panther game, 2008.

The Panthers were formed on 1 May 1978 and, while not the first American football club in Germany—this honour going to the Frankfurter Löwen [3] who were formed in 1977 but folded in the mid-1980s—are the oldest still existing club. [1]

The Frankfurter Löwen were an American football team from Frankfurt, Germany.

In 1979, the American Football Bundesliga, later to be renamed the German Football League, [4] was formed, consisting of six clubs, the Düsseldorf Panther, Frankfurter Löwen, Ansbach Grizzlies, Munich Cowboys, Berlin Bears and Bremerhaven Seahawks. [3] Of those six, the top two teams would contest the first ever German Bowl on 10 November 1979, however, the Panthers were a long shot from this game, finishing last without a win or point. [5]

The 1979 American football Bundesliga season was the first edition of the top-level American football competition in West Germany.

The Ansbach Grizzlies are an American football team based in Ansbach, Germany. The club, together with the Düsseldorf Panther and the Munich Cowboys, is one of the oldest in Germany. The Grizzlies were a dominating force in the game during the first decade of American football in Germany, reaching all of the first eight German Bowls.

Munich Cowboys sports club

The Munich Cowboys are an American football team based in Munich, Germany. The club, together with the Düsseldorf Panther and the Ansbach Grizzlies, is one of the oldest in Germany. The team refers to itself as The Grand Old Team of the South.

The team did not take part in the second or third season of the league, instead forming a rival league with a number of other clubs. The Panthers won this league, the Nordwestdeutsche Football-Liga , the NFL, in 1980 and 1981. Those two titles are however not recognised as national championships and the club, like all others in the league, soon returned to the Bundesliga. [1]

From 1982 to 1986, the league stood under the dominance of the Panthers and the Ansbach Grizzlies, who played each other in four consecutive German Bowls, with the Panthers winning all but the 1985 one. The team remained a strong side after this but was only able to win one more championship, in 1988, in the following four years. [5]

After a 1991 season when the club couldn't qualify for the play-offs, the Panthers returned to their former strength from 1992 onwards, the club experiencing a second golden era until 1996. Three German championships were won, in 1992, 1994 and 1995. In between, in 1993, the club only reached the semi finals while in 1996, it lost the final. Additionally, the Panthers became the first German side to win the Eurobowl in 1995. [5] From 1995 onwards, the Panthers also had some local competition, with the Rhein Fire, based at Düsseldorf, playing in the NFL Europe until the league folded in 2007.

From the late 1990s, the club suffered from financial trouble and was unable to maintain its high standard. After three seasons of missing the play-offs altogether, the Panthers reached the semi finals once more in 2000 and the quarter finals the year after. The year 2001 however saw the club drop out of the league and, for financial reasons, restart in the tier-three Regionalliga West . Success quickly returned, the Panthers won their league and the 2nd Bundesliga in the following year, returning to the GFL by 2004. [5]

Unlike in the past, the Panthers were not a play-off contender anymore, struggling against relegation instead. In 2004, a fifth place was still enough not to have to enter the relegation round, the following two years this was not the case. The team was unable to win a league match in 2005, but was saved in the relegation round when it defeated the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes there. The following season, its league performance was much improved but it could nevertheless only finish last, faced Kiel again in the relegation round and, this time lost. [5]

The Panthers played four seasons at the second level after that, from 2007 to 2010, finishing in mid-table in the first three. In 2010, a second place entitled the club to play in the promotion round courtesy to the expansion of the GFL from 12 to 14 teams. The Panthers were then able to earn promotion to the GFL by narrowly overcoming the Berlin Rebels by a point on aggregate, winning 43-41 in Berlin and losing 33-34 at home. [5]

The Panther's made a successful return to Germany's highest league in 2011, finishing third and qualifying for the play-offs where they met and defeated the Marburg Mercenaries in the quarter finals and advanced to the semi finals, where they lost to the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes. [6] In 2012, the club came fourth in the northern division of the GFL and qualified for the play-off where it was knocked out by Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in the quarter finals. In the 2013 season the club managed to finish only seventh in its division, thereby missing the play-offs. It came seventh again in 2014 and 2015, each time with only seven teams in the league, with only one win in two seasons. In 2016, they placed dead last once more, however this time the league had its full strength of eight teams, meaning a relegation round of Düsseldorf against the Cologne Crocodiles that had placed first in the GFL2 North.


German Bowl appearances

The club's appearances in the German Bowl: [2]

V September 25, 1983Düsseldorf PantherAnsbach Grizzlies22-7 Nuremberg 7,000
VI October 13, 1984Düsseldorf PantherAnsbach Grizzlies27-13 Essen 10,000
VII November 12, 1985Ansbach GrizzliesDüsseldorf Panther14-7 Cologne 9,000
VIII July 27, 1986Düsseldorf PantherAnsbach Grizzlies27-14 Würzburg 10,000
X October 15, 1988Red Barons CologneDüsseldorf Panther25-20 Berlin 11,000
XIV October 3, 1992Düsseldorf PantherMunich Cowboys24-23 Hanover 8,750
XVI September 17, 1994Düsseldorf PantherBerlin Adler27-17 Hanau 7,862
XVII September 16, 1995Düsseldorf PantherHamburg Blue Devils17-10 Braunschweig 12,125
XVIII October 5, 1996Hamburg Blue DevilsDüsseldorf Panther31-12 Hamburg 19,700

Recent seasons

Recent seasons of the Panthers: [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

2005 GFL (North)6th0–240.000120012206418Won RR: Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (1413 & 107)
20066th8–160.33312408153364Lost RR: Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (030 & 3027)
2007 GFL 2 (North)4th13–150.46414617291264
20102nd23–50.821141112485259Won PR: Berlin Rebels (4341 & 3334)
2011 GFL (North)3rd18–100.64314905351309Won QF: Marburg Mercenaries (1410)
Lost SF: Kiel Baltic Hurricanes (2145)
20124th16–120.57114725509453Lost QF: Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (25–41)
2013 7th6–220.214143011207496
2014 7th0–240.000120012181517
2015 7th2–220.08312101187519
2016 8th0-280.000140014270644Lost RR: Cologne Crocodiles (0–34 & 0–28)
2017 GFL 2 (North)2nd24–40.857141202517187
20181st24–40.857141202341148PR: Hamburg Huskies

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  1. 1 2 3 History (in German) Panthers website, accessed: 10 January 2010
  2. 1 2 Bowls Archived 2015-09-29 at the Wayback Machine . GFL website, accessed: 1 January 2011
  3. 1 2 Geschichte (in German) AFVD website, accessed: 29 December 2010
  4. GFL German Football League (in German) AFVD website, accessed: 29 December 2010
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Football History (in German) Historic American football tables from Germany, accessed: 2 January 2011
  6. 1 2 GFL 2011 www.football-aktuell.de, accessed: 18 September 2011
  7. GFL 2 2008 www.football-aktuell.de, accessed: 2 January 2011
  8. GFL 2 2009 www.football-aktuell.de, accessed: 2 January 2011
  9. GFL 2 2010 www.football-aktuell.de, accessed: 2 January 2011