The Barcelona Dragons were among the three European teams when the NFL started the World League of American Football in the spring of 1990. The NFL had such hopes for European growth that it lured away Mike Lynn from the Vikings to take over the league for its second season in 1991.
OK, maybe it was the heat he was taking for the Herschel Walker trade disaster that caused Lynn to bail out as Vikings CEO and replace himself with Roger Headrick, but Remarkable Mike did share big dreams with Commissioner Paul Tagliabue for building a football market in Europe.
Didn't quite work.
The WLAF ceased in 1997, and a development league called NFL Europe lasted through 2006. The NFL has since settled for occasional games in Europe and frequent rumors that a franchise someday will be located in London.
And perhaps in Barcelona, enough of a presence in Europe's leading versions of American football through the decades that when talking with Jackson Erdmann recently, I was able to ask:
"Does Barcelona still call itself the Dragons?''
The answer was "Yes,'' and then Erdmann talked about his finest moment as a rookie quarterback for the Vienna Vikings, 8-0 in the 12-team European League of American Football (ELAF), with four regular-season games and playoffs remaining.
"Closest game we've had was in the sixth week, at Barcelona,'' Erdmann said. "We were down 20-8 going into the fourth quarter and scored three touchdowns.''
The true drama came at 20-20, when the Vikings were third-and-20 from their 10 with a minute left.
"We went no huddle and an empty backfield,'' Erdmann said. "Jordan Bouah is a receiver from Rome and very fast. He got behind the defense and we hit a 90-yard touchdown play to win the game, 27-20.''
The losing quarterback was Zach Edwards, in his second season with the Dragons, @MagicZach_11 on Twitter, and a former record-breaking quarterback at St. Scholastica.
Was Edwards the quarterback for 98-0? "He's my age, so probably,'' Erdmann said. "We've tried to forget that one.''
That was the 2017 season opener for St. John's in Collegeville. Erdmann went 7-for-7 for three touchdowns, then stayed on the sideline to watch the carnage. Kurt Ramler, in his last season as the St. Scholastica coach, turned down invitations to go to running time in the second half.
In this rematch against an Edwards' team, Erdmann had to reach back for some magic remindful of a playoff opener vs. high-powered Aurora [Ill.] in 2019, his senior season.
The Johnnies were chasing all afternoon, finally edged ahead 35-34, and quickly gave up two touchdowns to fall behind 47-35. And then Erdmann led two touchdown drives in the final minutes for a 51-47 win.
It was Erdmann's last game in Collegeville, two road playoff wins followed, and then a 35-32, devastating loss at Wisconsin-Whitewater when he was picked off late in the national semifinals.
Lean but with a gifted arm and a fearless attitude, the son of a coach, Erdmann had the football addiction — so much so that he even competed in a 7-on-7 arena league in Atlanta where fans called the plays.
He had a quick look with Minnesota's Vikings when Kirk Cousins and two other quarterbacks were down because of COVID protocols early in 2021 training camp.
"You're hoping to make an impression, but it was temporary and they told me right after the workout: 'We're going with Case [Cookus],' " Erdmann said.
The latest attempt at the higher level of American Football started in 2021 with this ELAF. The Vienna Vikings, featuring uniforms almost identical to their Minnesota namesakes, continued playing in a lesser league. They were added as an expansion team for 2022, keeping Chris Calaycay as coach and chief recruiter.
"He was an assistant at Cal-Berkeley,'' Erdmann said. "Tells me that he recruited Aaron Rodgers. He hit me up to come to Vienna after St. John's. I passed, but ever since, that has been in my back pocket, to go play in Europe.
"I have my own apartment in this absolutely gorgeous city, Vienna. I'm playing football with the coolest guys from all over. Matthew Daltrey, a lineman from Scotland, he's been doing this for seven, eight years. He's my road roommate and our wild child. Hilarious.''
The entire league was off last week. Erdmann's parents came for a visit. They hit some Italian sights, and then the quarterback vacationed with friends in Ibiza.
Unbeaten as a Vikings' quarterback and Ibiza. What's to complain about?
"Not a thing,'' Erdmann said. "This is great.''