When the NFL schedule came out in April, Ulrich Rechenmacher knew what he had to do.
“It was the home opener, it was Monday Night Football, I mean, it’s the biggest stage of football, I guess. That’s probably the main reason why,” he says. “Everything was perfectly lined up for me to come here and have fun.”
So, he booked his trip the following day.
“Bought a ticket, booked my flight, said ‘Hell yeah, I’m coming.’”
Rechenmacher lives in Blindenmarkt, Austria, a town of 2,500 people an hour west of Vienna. And he’s a die-hard Colts fan.
He says the NFL drew him in 15 years ago. And he’s been hooked ever since.
“So, the first game I ever watched was like Green Bay versus Minnesota back in 1999. Late at night, I had no clue what the guys were doing. I was like, ‘Hmmm, that game is kind of fun.’ More and more, I got a clue about the rules and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a fun game.’”
And how did he become a Colts fan? It all started with one player.
“I didn’t have a favorite team for years, just players I liked. And then I saw Bob Sanders play, the safety, ‘The Eraser.’ He was a fantastic player. And I was like, ‘The Colts are kind of cool. They’ve got a good quarterback. And I like blue. It’s one of my favorite colors.’ So, Bob Sanders made me a Colts fan.”
And with the NFL’s growing popularity in Europe, his Sundays look a lot like yours. Only, a little later.
“My buddies at home are all football fans. So, we hang out on Sunday watching football and if there’s a holiday on Monday, we watch football until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. It’s kind of fun.”
Rechenmacher made stops in Chicago and San Francisco before arriving in Indianapolis on Sunday night.
“I think it’s a great city, really nice. I liked it from the minute I arrived here.”
And as he discovered, the Hoosier hospitality is no joke.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) September 21, 2015
“The people here are great. It’s like a big family. You get to know everyone everywhere you go. Everyone is really helpful, so the people in Indy are great.”
Rechenmacher has caught a few NFL games in London. And he plans to attend another in November. But he says there’s nothing like seeing your team on its home turf.
“I always think London games are fun, but you know what? It’s not as it is in the States. Home ground is home ground, you know? So I thought, if I’m going to a Colts game, it must be in Indy.”
And while he was in town, Rechenmacher took in some other sights.
Like all Colts fans, he hoped to see a win at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night.
But Rechenmacher says he’s a Colts fan win or lose.
He already plans to return to Indianapolis.
And he’ll have friends to welcome him back when he does.