By Lisa Zimmerman, Player Engagement Insider
Millions of children dream of becoming professional athletes. Many dream specifically about playing in the NFL. The odds dictate that few of those dreams come true. Moritz Boehringer is living that dream, although it is one that didn’t materialize until he was late into his teens.
Boehringer is German and grew up in the town of Aalen, about an hour east of Stuttgart in the southern part of the country. He was always interested in sports, but NFL football wasn’t that popular and wasn’t even on his radar. A soccer player from a young age, Boehringer assumed he would probably follow in his father’s footsteps and become a mechanical engineer. In fact, until the NFL came calling, he was a mechanical engineering student at Aalen University.
Then his life path took a sharp turn.
It started at age 17 when Boehringer was clicking through a variety of random YouTube videos when he stumbled on one of former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrien Peterson; it immediately captured his interest.
“It was just the speed of the game,” he said. “The combination of power and hitting, and there’s a lot of tactical aspects. That really kept me interested.”
There was a local American-style football team, which Boehringer, joined as a wide receiver. He played two years for the Crailsheim Titans and then in 2015 for the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns. Each year he improved and began making highlight reels. Then one day, an NFL scout based in the United Kingdom contacted him.
“I wasn’t sure if someone was trying to trick me,” Boehringer said. “At first, I didn’t believe the guy when he called me. But, he said, ‘Come to Florida.’ So, I came.”
Things escalated quickly from there. Boehringer began training, and then started traveling to meet with teams and attend Pro Days. Initially he was supposed to be in the United States for two weeks. But, once he arrived, he didn’t return.
Everything came together, and with his mother and sister at his side, Boehringer was in Chicago when his name was called during the 2016 NFL Draft. Those same Vikings he had watched on YouTube selected him in the sixth round with the 180th overall pick making him the first European to be drafted without playing college football.
“It was crazy,” he said. “I guess the perfect end to the year.”
It was an end, but it was also a beginning. With his college studies on hold (he has one more year of studies to complete his mechanical engineering degree), Boehringer ended up being signed to the Vikings practice squad. And don’t forget who was in that 2016 locker room – Adrian Peterson. Boehringer described the meeting as surreal.
“He’s still my favorite player,” Boehringer said.
His first NFL year was exciting and educational. Boehringer worked hard to improve his skills and adjust to life in the United States. He is on his own for the first time, although living with his girlfriend has offered him some support. And his support extends to Germany where his friends and family are cheering him on from afar.
Currently signed to a reserve/futures contract with the Vikings, his immediate goal is to make an active roster and to that end, he trains and puts in extra work on the JUGS machine to hone his pass-catching skills. But, in general, Boehringer is trying to be relaxed through the process and take things one day at a time.
“Right now, the plan for the season is to make the team and play,” he said. “But, you can’t play that long in the NFL so, it’s year to year.”
Lisa Zimmerman is a long-time NFL writer and reporter. She was the Jets correspondent for CBSSports.com, SportsNet New York’s TheJetsBlog.com and Sirius NFL Radio. She has also written for NFL.com.