HAMBURG, Germany - Notes and quotes on a chillier-than-normal and gray July day for the Notre Dame alumni football camp in Hamburg:
When the Irish arrived for practice Thursday (in helmets and shorts only, no pads), they found a hand-made sign draped over fences enclosing the practice field area. It read, "Wieso zeight lhr der WELT nicht das lhr die Blue Devils seit und nicht die Blue Deppen," which translated loosely, said, "Let's show the world we're the Blue Devils, not he Blue Dummies." That's in reference to some recent newspapers headlines describing the recent Blue Devil on-field struggles.
Injured inside linebacker Dave Butler (he has a broken bone in his foot and won't play Saturday) was invited to lead the team Thursday in 10 jumping jacks. He complied, on one foot.
Notre Dame officials who attended the Blue Devils' 26-14 loss Saturday to the Munich Cowboys said the noise level amongst fans was intense, even with a crowd of around 6,000. With an expected crowd of 25,000-30,000 for the Notre Dame game, Irish coaches are anticipating a wild scene.
Irish quarterback Tony Rice is here, even though he can't play due to surgery for a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in the flag football warmup game in April. He's a familiar name to German fans based on his former involvement with the Munich team of the Football League of Europe.
Likely starters for the Irish on defense are Brian Hamilton, Corey Bennett, Melvin Dansby and Andre Jones up front, Karl McGill at OLB, Wes Pritchett and Jeremy Sample inside - and Ivory Covington, Ty Goode, Brandy Wells and Pat Eilers in the secondary.
Irish team physician Dr. Pat Leary Thursday donned a helmet and jersey and worked out with the kickers.
Sponsorship is routine in the German Football League. The Hamburg team jerseys feature logos of Holsten Pilsner (a beer company) and Jaxx.de (an internet company), plus the Ford logo appears prominently on the front of the Blue Devil helmets.
The Blue Devils normally wear a medium blue jersey for home games, but they will wear white Saturday since Notre Dame is identified best by its home blue jerseys.
Practice sessions have been spirited but somewhat light in tone. With the number of players from the Lou Holtz era (and with son Skip running the offense) there have been more than a few Lou Holtz imitations heard on the practice fields.
The Irish family and friends took a two-hour bus trip Thursday for a tour of a Schwerin Castle. Thursday night's agenda featured a reception for the Notre Dame team by the host charity, Kindern Helfen Kindern. The Irish Wednesday night saw the musical Buddy Holly, with songs in English and dialogue in German - following a boat tour of the Hamburg harbor.
The conservative Hamburgr Abendblatt Thursday featured a color photo of tailback Reggie Brooks. The Wednesday edition of the Hamburg Bild included action shots of Irish players from their college days, with headlines noting their current jobs. So Germans learned about Reggie Brooks, der Computer-Freak, Lee Becton, der Manager and Terry Andrysiak, der Bank-Prasident.