When Tommy Kjærsgaard-Rasmussen stumbled upon the weekly NFL highlights show on Danish cable TV, the 15-year old boy was instantly hooked.
“What drew me to football was the game itself: the spectacular hits and the tactical aspects. To me, football is a game of chess with muscles,” said Kjærsgaard-Rasmussen.
Back then, in 1998, American football didn’t attract much attention in Denmark. Even though Danish kicker Morten Andersen, who became the all-time leader in points scored, was having a great season with the Atlanta Falcons, the 15-year became a fan of a different set of NFL birds.
“That year the Eagles stunk. But because I have a thing for underdogs, I became a fan of one of the worst teams in the NFL,” he recalled.
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Fast forward 14 years and he is still a die-hard fan who spends hours each day reading about the Eagles on the internet. Only now he is no longer one of a select few.
When Morten Andersen played in Super Bowl XXXII, the game was on national TV in Denmark. Despite the six-hour time difference, more viewers than expected followed the game, prompting the network to expand its coverage to one Sunday game live in prime time starting in 2000. Since then the interest in the NFL has skyrocketed.
In 2007, cable network Viasat bought the rights to broadcast NFL games in Denmark, and today no other country broadcasts as many NFL games live as Denmark. Not even the U.S., where local blackouts occur from time to time.
“Morten Andersen put the NFL on the map in Denmark with his Super Bowl appearance,” said Kjærsgaard-Rasmussen. “But I am not inclined to give him as much credit for the rising interest in the NFL in Denmark as others are. It’s not like the level of interest in the NFL has gone down in Denmark after he retired.”
After years of playing and coaching in the Danish national league, Kjærsgaard-Rasmussen has been a color commentator for the past four seasons. During that span he has been to three Super Bowls.
Watching the Eagles win the Super Bowl is his biggest dream as a fan. But also his biggest fear as a commentator.
“When the Eagles played in the NFC Championship Game in 2009, I had switched games so that I was doing the AFC Championship Game, but I watched it backstage in our studio, and I couldn’t even bear to look up on the screen. And my reactions during the game ... Let’s just say it would be a mess, if I were to do a Super Bowl with the Eagles,” Kjærsgaard-Rasmussen said with a smile.