May 23rd 07:30, by Alex Malchow

Two days to go: Austrian Football Trailblazer Thomas Schaffer Returns to Vienna

© Stanford University Athletics

May 23rd 07:30, by Alex Malchow

Two days to go: Austrian Football Trailblazer Thomas Schaffer Returns to Vienna

Thomas Schaffer has signed a two-year contract with the Vienna Vikings of the European League of Football. The experienced defensive lineman brings size and savvy to Chris Calaycay’s defense. Defensive line coach Benjamin Sobotka on what Schaffer brings to the Vikings: "The first time we really saw him back in Europe was with the men's national team last year when we played team Finland. You can see in the game, he's a dominant football player. He played for the University of Stanford, he played in the CFL. You can see that he's just used to a different level of football, and he showed exactly that in the game."

Massive frame for the defensive line

Schaffer is a massive homegrown player at 1.95 m and 135 kg. The Vienna-born lineman first started playing football for the nearby Mӧdling Rangers, before making the jump to the Austrian national team, high school football in the US, and eventually becoming the first Austrian player to ever play DI FBS college football.


It was the right move at the right time, Schaffer explained: "I think Vienna has definitely been one of the ELF's top teams since entering, and I think they have a really good shot at the championship this year. I wanted to be here, I know a lot of people from the team and played with them on a national team. Myself and the owner Robin Lumsden have been friends for a long time. So there's always been a connection to Vienna."

Thomas Schaffer / Robin Lumsden photo. (c) Robin Lumsden

Thomas Schaffer / Robin Lumsden photo. © Robin Lumsden

Schaffer’s DI and NFL Career

From 2016 to 2020 Schaffer played with the Stanford University Cardinal, gaining more and more playing time every year. In his final two seasons, Schaffer’s role increased, as he racked up 33 tackles, 4 sacks, and 9 tackles for a loss in only 14 games. 

Following his graduation from Stanford University in 2021, Schaffer was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Bears but was released following an injury. 

There's no place like home

In 2022, Schaffer returned to European American football, playing in four games for the Raidersl. Later that year, he originally signed with the Vienna Vikings before taking his talent to North America once again, joining the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League where he spent the 2023 season and part of the 2024 training camp.

Schaffer, however, chose to leave the CFL recently and return to Vienna as he stated his discontent with the CFL Global program, while also focusing on his new hair product business cleverly named “The Alpchemist”. 

"I see this as a homecoming. I think Vienna was just the best place for me to be right now. Everything is considered because my other girlfriends are here. We have a dog and I started a company in Vienna. So being in Vienna is the best situation for me."

Vienna’s explosive defense

The newest Viking is already familiar with many of his new teammates, as he’s been a long-standing part of the Austrian National team, ever since he became the team's youngest-ever member back in 2012. More recently, Schaffer and several Vikings and Raiders players helped Austria win the IFAF European Championship in October of last year. 

Schaffer knows his teammates and sees this season as a great chance to chase another championship with the Vienna Vikings.

"The expectation is to go 1-0 every week and that's what we're focusing on. If I do well, or if I don't get any tackles, our goal is to win a championship over any statistics. In the end, it's about winning the championship for us as a team."

Share this article on your favorite platform: