Are the New England Patriots planning to take the field in Germany in 2022?
Pats owner Robert Kraft and German fullback Jakob Johnson took the podium together Tuesday to celebrate a special occasion. In last week's win over the Buffalo Bills, Johnson played his 1,000th NFL snap to become the third player in the International Player Pathway Program to accomplish the feat.
"For years, the NFL has been trying to expand to international markets, and we try to recruit international talent," Kraft said. "I love this program, especially over in Europe because since we've gone outside the U.S., we're 3-0. So, I want to keep that happening. In our history, dating back to the 70s we've had John Smith at kicker, then of course Sebastian Vollmer joined us and spent eight years, and now Jakob Johnson.
"A number of these players have gone through this program that we call the International Pathway Program. ... A couple years ago I remember a couple of coaches here talking about Jakob and saying he's not very good, and look where he is today. Look what he has done. He's worked hard, he's really gotten the respect of everyone, he's had such progress."
Kraft presented Johnson with a game ball to commemorate his achievement, then teased a big announcement coming on Wednesday.
"I just want to tell you all that tomorrow is his birthday, and we will announce something very special tomorrow on his birthday," Kraft said.
With Kraft and the Patriots' announcement set to come on Johnson's birthday, there's some speculation about New England potentially playing a game in Johnson's native country.
"That's one of the countries the NFL is trying to get to. I believe we have the largest fanbase here, and I think it's because of Sebastian and yourself," Kraft said.
"I think the people will be excited if we make it over here," Johnson replied.
It sure sounds like a trip to Germany is in the Patriots' plans, but we'll just have to wait and see what they have up their sleeves.