Posted: Tuesday April 18, 2006 5:00PM; Updated: Tuesday April 18, 2006 5:54PM
Eyde (number 1) sees time on both sides of the ball, as he did at cornerback in a 50-28 win over Argonauts d'Aix en Provence on April 15.
A series of one-year contracts has taken Eyde from Hohenems to the Rome Ducks, Civitanova Yankees, Reggio Emilia Hogs, Innsbruck and Bolzano. Likening himself to Doug Flutie, Eyde says his ability to improvise on the run has made him attractive to teams in leagues where game plans can be sketchy because many players hold regular day jobs and can't always make it to practice.
If scrambling is a survival mechanism, so is the ability to speak different languages. "I'm learning Italian and getting better at German," Eyde says. "In the huddle it helps for explaining blocking schemes and to alert your linemen if someone is going to take your head off."
Each team is allowed only five foreigners on its roster -- the Giants' 300-pound Finnish lineman Jarno Ojantivu is included in that number -- the better to provide opportunities for local players to make the jump from club teams to NFL Europe and, in rare cases, to the NFL.
Eyde is content to spend six months each year in Europe with his living and travel expenses covered by his team, occasionally taking odd jobs to make extra scratch. He's used his size advantage to work as a bodyguard for DJ Frankie Knuckles, "The Godfather of House Music," driven a truck delivering school lunches and served as a translator for David Letterman's production crew at the Turin Olympics. During the offseason in the U.S., he has made ends meet with gigs as a substitute teacher in Michigan, a dodge-ball ref in Minneapolis and a human resources assistant in Los Angeles, among others.
"To me, this is more than just about football," says Eyde, who considered an offer from Arena 2 last fall but decided to stay in Europe and write a book about his experiences. "It is about a passion to be part of something beyond the grip of an ordinary life. Sure, I've sacrificed a great deal of normalcy and am subject to a lot of strange looks when I talk about what I do, but such is life."