In honor of its origins and iconic Baselayer, Under Armour treated us to the Patriots vs Colts game in Europe.

Frankfurt is trending upwards. Economically, architecturally, and also when it comes to sports. It’s no coincidence that this city, bereft of tangible tradition but replete with skyscrapers and financial hubs, has become something of a second home for the best of the NFL. Thanks to Under Armour, we got to experience the USA in the heart of Germany, enjoying the matchup between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts within the futuristic Deutsche Bank Park. At the same time, we immersed ourselves in the evocative history of a brand born with and in service to American football.

“It all started on the field.” UA Founder Kevin Plank speaks as a testament to his passion, to the essence of a vision that came of age between the yards and locker rooms back in 1996, when he held the position of fullback and Special Teams captain in the famed University of Maryland program. “We were forced to wear hefty materials underneath our uniforms, and they got even heavier with sweat,” he recalls during a special event dedicated to the evolution of the iconic Baselayer product, during an event celebrating its latest ColdGear evolution. While telling stories of his experiences as an entrepreneur, Plank lingers for a moment on a vintage portrait of himself wearing a flannel shirt during a youth game, “I wanted to create a product that would enhance the performance and comfort level of each and every one of my teammates.” In retrospect, his story takes on the contours of a Dickensian fable, “So, I sold flowers to scrape together some money, and then I poured it all into the Under Armour project. I started by shipping products to college teams and teammates who, in the meantime, had ended up in the NFL.”

In front of a giant picture of Eric ‘Big E’ Ogbogu, legendary defensive end of the Dallas Cowboys and face of the equally legendary ‘Protect This House’ campaign, launched by Under Armour in 2003 and remaining, to this day, a manifesto of the brand, Plank’s words pivot between sports and business, giving us both a celebration of the NFL  and an outline of the foundational wish to create products capable of transcending reality. Armour. Capable of transforming into magical objects arrayed on the lines of scrimmage and propelled towards touchdowns, then catapulted into the entire sports universe. Lindsey Vonn, guest of honor and historical representative of the Baltimore-born company put it this way: “Wearing the Baselayer for me was tantamount to having superpowers.”

Speaking of superpowers, watching today’s NFL players live can’t help but evoke reflection and incredulity at the level of physicality likely unmatched in any other sporting context. The helmets and pads seem to conceal superhumans: kinetic machines capable of sweeping, taking off and soaring through the Frankfurt sky, crowded with planes from every corner of the world. In front of the more than 50,000 in attendance, split between Old World fanatics and overseas vacationers, Dayo Odeyingbo’s three sacks and Gardner Minshaw’s no-nonsense passes delivered a 10-6 upset to Indianapolis, silencing the many Patriots fans who had flocked to the banks of the Main.

But the significance of that Sunday afternoon in Germany cannot be limited to mere statistical data; it is the confirmation of a sport that, year after year, sinks its root deeper and deeper into European soil, gathering newcomers and virtuosos alike, all drawn by the wild fascination of, let’s face it, truly extraordinary athletes.

Photo credits:

Under Armour

IMAGO / Schüler / Rene Schulz / Inpho Photography

Text by Gianmarco Pacione