Prague Black Panthers star Kyle Newhall-Caballero back in Prague

“The guys are pretty awesome,” he says of his teammates on the Prague Black Panthers. When he played his first season last year, “I immediately had 80 buddies.”

There is a large contingent of foreigners living in Prague, and it’s small wonder: The city’s lovely architecture, the accessibility of its public transportation, and its relatively low cost of living are not only strong lures in themselves, but prove nearly irresistible when taken together. But for Kyle Newhall-Caballero, the only American on Prague’s American football team, the appeal of the city lies in something much more personal.

“The guys are pretty awesome,” he says of his teammates on the Prague Black Panthers. When he played his first season last year, “I immediately had 80 buddies.”

These men so impressed Kyle, he has returned for a second season. A native of Arizona, Kyle previously played for Brown University, and was briefly signed as a free agent to the NFL team the Oakland Raiders. After playing with the Raiders through the pre-season of 2012, Kyle was cut, and was unable to sign with another team. He got a job in cognitive sports training instead. “I thought I was done with football,” he remembers.

But certain passions will not be sidelined. One day, Kyle happened upon www.europlayers.com and through the website began corresponding with the general manager of the Prague Black Panthers. “I never got to study abroad” in college, he says, “because I was playing football.” As Prague is “right smack dab in the middle of Europe,” is “really cheap,” and he knew many people who had visited and “loved it,” he decided a stint on the city’s American football team would provide him with the perfect opportunity for living and traveling abroad. Perhaps more importantly, it would allow him to once again play the sport he loved and missed.

Kyle’s influence on the Prague Black Panthers was significant and nearly immediate. In 2013, the PBP was 2-8 in the Austrian league, the more competitive of the two leagues (the other being the local Czech league) in which the team plays. After Kyle joined in 2014, “we made it to the semi-finals,” he says proudly. “We were in every single game,” meaning the team acquitted itself competitively and gave each of its opponents a run for its money, as the American saying goes.


The experience proved as beneficial to Kyle as it did his teammates. “I learned what I wanted to do,” he says. “Last year, I had a lot of time to think about things. I want to enjoy life, have a family. I don’t want to do something just because I can, for 20-30 years, even if it pays well.”

Doing something simply because you love to do it is an attitude that is seemingly characteristic of the Prague Black Panthers team. Kyle says he is the only player who is paid; everyone else contributes dues. His teammates must indeed love the sport if they are willing to pay in order to play it, and to devote time to practice and training after “coming from work, college, from taking care of their kids.”

The Prague Black Panthers practice only twice a week, with a third day devoted to skills training. In the United States, “you train five times a week,” Kyle says. Of course, if you practice more, you’re able “to do more things,” but the less rigorous schedule adopted by the PBP “helps you rest your body more. It’s hard to get burnt out.”

Which is not to say more time for rest has resulted in a less serious attitude. The team’s younger players in particular are devoted to the sport, have been playing since they were kids, and study YouTube videos of American football in the United States. Some of the older guys may have previously adhered to a jokey four-beer rule (“You had to drink four beers before playing”), but the players today “take it really seriously and understand they have to be in shape.”

“I think I rubbed off on them,” Kyle laughs.

He has naturally assumed a leadership role, and readily dispenses advice. Of playing American football abroad, he says, “I would recommend it to anyone who can play, who wants to see the world, not get to work right away.” It’s important to “experience something different.”

Kyle hopes the upcoming season will in some ways prove different from his first. He speaks highly of the team’s new coach, the Texan Jim Ward, and grins when he states his wish for 2015: “be that team from the Czech Republic that wins the Austrian league.”


More about Kyle and the Prague Black Panthers:
Prague TV meets Black Panthers star Kyle Newhall-Caballero

Win free tickets to the first Prague Black Panthers American Football game of the season!
Prague Black Panthers vs the Vienna Vikings, 11.04.2015, 16:00, Prague

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