Vienna Vikings sign former Chicago Bear Thomas Schaffer
The Vienna Vikings are getting even better. The reigning European League of Football champions are signing a former Stanford Cardinal and Chicago Bear, Thomas Schaffer. The Vienna native will switch positions to offensive line and join the Vikings after playing for the Raiders in 2022.
From Mödling to the NFL
Schaffer started playing football at the age of 12 for the Mödling Rangers youth program, before making his way to Lake Forrest high school just before his 16th birthday. The young Austrian, who also competed in volleyball, flourished under head coach Robin Bowkett, earning three all-conference selections and developed into a three-star defensive end prospect.
Despite offers from schools like Oregon and Cal, Schaffer committed to Stanford University, becoming the first Austrian to ever play football at the Division I FBS level. The Vienna native redshirted his freshman season and played in just eight games over the next two years, before playing in all games in 2019. After starting all six games in a season that was shortened due to COVID-19, Schaffer was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention, ending his collegiate career on a high note. The 2,01 meter tall and 140 kg heavy defensive tackle was signed by the Chicago Bears for training camp but did not make the 53-man roster.
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Return to Europe
The defensive tackle returned to Europe in 2022, when he joined the Tirol Raiders in the European League of Football at the signing deadline. He started all of the next five games, collecting 10 total tackles and four tackles for loss, during the Raiders’ playoff run.
Now the former defensive tackle will move to the offensive side of the ball. When asked about the position change, Schaffer had the following to say:
“The transition has been difficult and frustrating to say the least, but having consistent work with the OL Group here is very helpful at refining this skill for me. I think I have the tools to succeed at any level playing O-Line which is why I am making that switch. I have enjoyed the challenge and process, and I am eager to get better every day at it. Austrian Football has been extremely supported in this process, and I am excited to see where I can go with this change.”
Head coach Chris Calaycay is excited to work with the former NFL player:
„Thomas is coming back to the east of Austria and will be joining the Vikings' offensive line. He has been a defensive lineman most of his career but has made the commitment and dedication to transitioning to the offensive side of the ball. Thomas has the rare traits of size and athleticism, along with his football knowledge and experience, to make a quick transition to his new position in 2023. I can‘t wait to see what he will do in Purple! “
Schaffer is especially excited about playing for a franchise that is co-owned by fellow Stanford alumnus Robin Lumsden:
“I have known Robin for quite some time since he was at Stanford, and we met there when he came to a couple of games with his family. He is also my representative in Austria and Europe since I declared for the NFL, so we have been working closely together for the past couple years to get me back to the highest level. He is a great guy, a real go-getter, and I think his involvement with the Vikings has definitely elevated how the Team operates, and I am very excited that I am on board this year.”
Thomas Schaffer and Vienna Vikings co-owner Robin Lumsden are both Stanford alumni. ©Lumsden And Partner
It will be interesting to see at which position Schaffer will play, since the Vikings already have arguably the best offensive tackle duo in the league, with All-Star Aleksandar Milanovich and Offensive Rookie of the Year finalist Lukas Holub. Will Schaffer, who has the size of a tackle, beat out Holub for the starting right tackle job, or move to the interior offensive line?