This week, we get 2021 underway by discussing all things American Football with Exiles Director of Coaching Scott Rowe. From a stellar playing career that took him to US shores, to his questionable choice as a long-suffering Dallas Cowboys fan, Rowe is the man who oversees coaching across all sections of the club so, let’s get into it!
How did you get into American Football?
I had lots of family in the United States and was always fascinated with the sport whenever I spent time out there as a young kid. Like many other children of the late 70’s/early 80’s, Channel 4’s TV coverage was where I really learnt to love the game.
The Washington vs Miami Super Bowl in 1983 (XVII) was the first one I really remember watching properly, although I have a fuzzy memory of watching highlights of Super Bowl XV (Oakland/Philly) on ITV’s World of Sport in 1981. I played rugby in secondary school and after seeing an advert in the local paper where I lived in South London, myself and some rugby friends turned up at Sutcliffe Park in Kidbrooke for a training session for the Kent Rams Junior Team. That was in 1986 and I was hooked from that day onwards!
Did you play American Football / what position did you play?
I played from 1986 through to 2005: Kent Rams Juniors (2 x National Championships in 1987 and 1989); London Olympians Juniors for a season in 1990, then part of the great Olympians dynasties from 1991-1995 and again from 1998-2005. I was blessed to spend 2 years playing at Nicholls State University in Louisiana (Division 1-AA, 1993-1994), thanks to connections at the Olympians, and I also played abroad in Spain and Germany for the Madrid Panteras, Hanau Hawks, and Stuttgart Scorpions.
I am proud to have represented Great Britain both as a Junior (1989/1990 – Crusaders) and Senior (1996-2005 – Lions). I pretty much played all skill positions as a Junior – defensive back, wide receiver and running back – but then specialised as a defensive back. I started off at cornerback, but then, as I got older and…ahem…’bigger’, I moved inside to safety. I also returned punts and kicks throughout my career and loved it!
What position did you dream you could play?
I never really had the size as a player, but I would have loved to play defensive end. I lived for those rare occasions when I was allowed to blitz from the secondary.
Why the Exiles?
Because it’s a top-tier organisation. As both a player and young coach, I was involved in some great, great teams but the management/organisation left a lot to be desired. The people running the Exiles truly care about the club and everyone in it.
It’s also been brilliant to see the success and progress made by all our sections over the last 10 years or so, and the fantastic people that have been attracted to the club over that period. It’s building, it really is. On a more personal note, as a fledgling coach, the Exiles gave me the opportunity to be a Defensive Coordinator (2008) and a Head Coach (2009). I’ll always be grateful for that.
What is your greatest achievement in this sport so far?
Being part of some amazing Olympian teams that went to three straight Eurobowls (winning 2) in the early 1990’s, and then having a long unbeaten run of games in the early 2000’s in my second spell with them really stand out. On a purely personal level, stepping out onto the turf at John L. Guidry Stadium in Thibodaux, Louisiana for the Nicholls State Colonels for my first ever college snap as a Freshman DB vs Northeast Louisiana was an emotional moment as it represented such a journey for me. Also, every time I pulled on a GB jersey was a special time.
What motivates you to coach football?
This game has given me so much and I’ve had such wonderful times playing it that I want to help others do the same. I was motivated by having some amazing coaches: the late, great Andy Cox, Dennis Danielson, Leroy Slue and Tony Allen. They inspired me as a young player and I hope I can do the same for players that I coach.
What are your goals for the women’s / Adult’s / U19 / U17 / Flag Team over the next 5 years?
My role as Director of Coaching requires me to have a general overview of all sections so I think my ‘utopian’ vision would be to see all our teams regularly competing at the very top of their respective levels, along with everyone involved in the club enjoying their experiences.
Aside from the Exiles which team do you support and why?
I’m a long-suffering Dallas Cowboys fan. I started supporting them as a 9 or 10-year-old because all my cousins/relatives in the USA were from the New York and New Jersey areas and were Giants fans so I wanted to be different. Early idols of mine were Tony Dorsett (RB), Everson Walls (CB), and Michael Downs (SS). They were also good back then, though not so much now…
If you could have one NFL or college player on your team who would it be?
From current players it would have to be Patrick Mahomes, particularly his ability to throw a strike from anywhere on the field. As for past players, it would have to be the best ever cover corner in football, Deion Sanders. I also like high-character guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Rod Woodson, Darrell Green… Hold on, that’s like five people. Sorry. Let’s say Deion.
What sets American Football apart from other sports and why do you think it is growing so well in the UK?
It is THE greatest team sport in the world. Period. No other sport requires the same, co-ordinated effort from so many people as football does. I have made lifelong friends through football and playing and coaching this game has had a major role in defining my life’s journey.
The sport is currently enjoying increased popularity due to the effort the NFL is putting into marketing the London games, the Jags etc. and expanding their fan base over here. The cynical might say it’s all about money and…it is, but…if they continue to invest in the domestic game, then that’s all good. I would like to see Britball clubs held to a higher standard organisationally so that we can move towards a product that is marketable and worth investing in. If that means fewer clubs but a higher standard of football, then so be it.