Acclaimed author John Grisham once wrote a book titled “Playing for Pizza.” The novel details a fictional former third-string Cleveland Browns quarterback who heads to Italy to play American football. It is a fascinating story about what goes into an American football player playing in a foreign land. American football players playing overseas isn’t a new concept. It has become quite popular in the last 25 years. Like with Grisham’s character, another American quarterback made the journey abroad to follow his dream to play professional football. Quinn Frisell made the journey from Minneapolis Minnesota to Telfs Austria to play the game he loves.
Football Takes Quinn Frisell from Minnesota to Austria
Born To Play Football
Like with other successful quarterbacks, Quinn Frisell was born to play football. Frisell’s passion for the game of football was handed down to him by his father Dave Frisell. Dave is a longtime high school football coach.
Currently the head coach of the Waterloo (WI) high school football team, Dave spent many years coaching the game he loves in the state of Minnesota. During his time coaching high school in Minnesota, he had the joy of coaching his son Quinn. First, at Mankato East (MN) and then at Robbinsdale Armstrong (MN), Quinn was Dave’s starting quarterback. At both stops, Quinn found success.
That success led Quinn to Augsburg (MN) University. Playing in one of the best Division 3 football conferences, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), in the country, Frisell found success. In his three seasons with Augsburg, he threw for 4,172 passing yards and 38 touchdowns. He was named All MIAC Honorable Mention in 2017 as well as 2019.
When his final season was over, it appeared that Quinn Frisell’s playing days were over as well. He turned to the next phase of his life, that being a career in coaching. Along with being an assistant at Chanhassen (MN) high school, he established his own quarterback training academy, 612 Quarterbacks. But that next phase of his life was put on hold when the Telfs Patriots came calling.
Austria Comes Calling
For some, the idea of venturing to another country brings some anxiety, along with excitement. But to do that during a Pandemic? Well, that takes some guts and some insanity.
But that is exactly what Quinn Frisell did. After signing with the Telfs Patriots, he boarded a flight to Austria this spring for his first season of overseas football.
For Frisell, it has been an adventure of a lifetime. Recently, we were able to have a video chat with him and ask how this experience has changed his life.
How did you get interested in playing football overseas?
A relative of my girlfriend gave me the “Playing for Pizza” and I was hooked. The idea of playing a game I love, being paid to do so, and doing it in a beautiful foreign country? Sign me up!
I put my contact information in a database for American football players and was contacted by several overseas teams. One of those teams was the Patriots and head coach Nick Kleinhansl. I had several Zoom calls with him, ownership, and Hunter Schmidt (another imported player). After our conversations, along with conversations with my parents and my girlfriend, I decided that I would give it a shot.
From what I understand, this was your first time going abroad. What was that like during a Pandemic?
Yes, first time going abroad. So, I don’t have anything to compare it to. But it has been interesting (laughing).
When I came over to Austria, restaurants weren’t open and grocery stores were only open for four hours a day. They have loosened things up, but still, masks are required and testing is still frequent (for the players). However, I was still able to sightsee and I am so happy I have been able to. It is so beautiful here.
You and Schmidt, a former standout at Mary Hardin-Baylor, are the two imported players for the Patriots. How many imported players are allowed on each team? How does your compensation work?
Each team is allowed two imported players. However, only one import can be on the field at a time. I was the offensive import and Schmidt was our defensive import.
We are paid a salary and have our housing paid for. The team also pays for one meal per day.
You had a very impressive season, passing for 1,676 yards with 14 touchdown passes along with rushing for 397 yards with five touchdown carries. Your team finished third in their division, barely missing the playoffs (because of COVID, the schedule was trimmed from eight to six regular-season games). How competitive did you find your league?
I was very impressed with the level of play in our league. There were some impressive imports in our league. Schmidt is a former Division 3 All-American. Tommy Auger, a standout tight end at St. John’s (MN) University played in our league as well. Cameron Brown, a second-team All-American from Case Western Reserve University, also played in our league. Along with being a great pass rusher, he is also the son of Mike Brown, the former head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But it wasn’t just the imports that impressed me. Austria has some really good football players! Plus, you have to remember, their first sport is skiing, that is where they spend most of their time. Some of the players on my team have only been playing football, one or maybe two years. However, they are playing at a much high level than you would expect for just having a year or two of playing experience.
You are the son of a football coach. Last season, you started your coaching career working with quarterbacks and wide receivers at Chanhassen high school and starting your quarterback training academy. How has playing in Austria helped with your coaching career and skills?
Oh, for sure it has helped. Playing-wise, Coach Kleinhansl allowed me to have major input into our offense. We worked very well together and as the season moved along, we really got on the same page. I got to see the coaching side and mesh it with the playing side. It was very educational.
Another big part of my job with the Patriots was working the 12 and Under program. I worked with two young kids, nine and ten, who didn’t speak a word of English. The language barrier challenged me and it helped me improve my coaching skills.
Finally, what are some of the things you are going to take from this experience?
First and most importantly, the relationships I have developed with my teammates. I have met people that I will continue to be friends with for the rest of my life. In fact, a couple of my teammates, are planning to come over to the states. I have developed a bond with my teammates and I am truly blessed for that.
This journey has also allowed me to do so many awesome things and not just by myself either. My parents and grandmother came over to see me play. Now, my girlfriend is over here. It has been an awesome experience.
I am unsure about my playing career but I am so happy that I did this.
Main Photo: Courtesy of Quinn Frisell