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SteelCityMan786
06-23-2007, 12:22 PM
http://post-gazette.com/pg/07174/796548-66.stm

NFL Europe: Ex-PSU, Central Catholic star leads Hamburg's defense into World Bowl

Saturday, June 23, 2007
By Michael Preston, Special to the Post-Gazette

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Western Pennsylvania's football mentality might have an influence on the outcome of World Bowl XV when the Hamburg Sea Devils take on the Frankfurt Galaxy today.

Justin Kurpeikis, a former Central Catholic High School All-American and Penn State All-Big Ten selection, will start at defensive end for the Sea Devils. He takes an attitude into the NFL Europa championship game that he feels is unique to players from his home state.

"Coming from Western Pa., there is always more expected out of you and you have to be tough and willing to go the extra mile when other people won't," he explained. "You take that attitude into college and then into the pro level.

"I think that it starts with Pennsylvania as a whole. To me, there is a certain way football is looked at. My high school was a special place, and I have a certain type of football that I have to play and uphold."

Those standards have paid dividends. Kurpeikis was named to the All-NFL Europa League team this week. He tied for the team lead with five sacks to go with 31 tackles, four passes defended and two forced fumbles.

He has played in 14 NFL games, including three with the Steelers as a rookie, but headed overseas to improve his overall technique and gain experience.

"I'm not a person that worries too much about personal goals," Kurpeikis said. "My goal coming over here was to have a passion about playing football. I love to play football and knew that I would get as much as I could handle over here and would play hard on every snap. After that, I wanted to win a championship, and we have that chance now."

But there is a future to consider. Being a free agent, Kurpeikis is certain his performance across the Atlantic will catch the eyes of coaches and scouts back home.

"I've done everything that I can and I don't worry about things that are out of my control," he said. "My agent will deal with any offers, and I still believe that if you take care of what you have control over, those other things will take care of themselves. There will be somebody who has a place for me.

"In college, I played defensive end in a 4-3 system. But, in the pros, I have played outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. There are not a lot of teams that run that, and I played on three of them. So, basically I wanted to show NFL teams that I could still play at defensive end in the 4-3 formation."

When the Sea Devils take on the hometown Galaxy in front of an anticipated 50,000 sellout crowd at Frankfurt's Commerzbank Arena, Kurpeikis will have to help contain the league's top-ranked offense. Galaxy quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan was named co-offensive MVP . He had a 104.8 passer rating.

"The way their offense is, they are going to make plays," Kurpeikis said. "What we have to do is stay disciplined and not press too hard to stop them. We need to wait for them to come to us. It will be a challenge, but we go in there with confidence having already beaten them once this season."

Kurpeikis is eager to return to Pennsylvania and resume a more familiar lifestyle once his European adventure ends tonight.

"It has been great and the city of Hamburg was awesome, but, to be completely honest, I miss my wife, my family, my dogs and my house," he admitted. "I'm looking forward to getting home to State College."

tony hipchest
06-23-2007, 02:06 PM
its been a good game with plenty of offense. im pulling for underdog hamburg but their kicker has missed an extra point and a chip shot fg. not good and it will probably cost them in the end.

the capacity crowd of 50,000+ is loud and rowdy. despite this there still might be discussions of folding the league after this week. that would be a shame.

SteelCityMan786
06-23-2007, 02:09 PM
its been a good game with plenty of offense. im pulling for underdog hamburg but their kicker has missed an extra point and a chip shot fg. not good and it will probably cost them in the end.

the capacity crowd of 50,000+ is loud and rowdy. despite this there still might be discussions of folding the league after this week. that would be a shame.

Yeah and the NFL Europe League has been more of a NFL Germany.