Bombers' Collier doesn't overlook overseas experience

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:18 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Brandon Collier’s journey to Winnipeg was like most other American football players. College. NFL tryout. Winnipeg. The only difference with Collier is there was one more football stop, and it just so happened to be on the other side of the world. Collier, who won a starting defensive tackle job with the Bombers this year, spent the first five months of 2011 in Vienna, playing for the Raiffeisen Vikings of the Austrian Football League. “I went there because I got hurt out of college. I had some tryouts with some NFL teams, and I wasn’t healthy, so they wanted to see me healthy,” Collier said. “I just happened to see an opportunity to go over there. “I didn’t go over there for film or anything; just to have a good time and just show a team that I’m healthy, so they knew I played the whole season over there.” The Vikings reached the league final, and Collier said he had a successful season statistically. When he returned to the U.S., he got a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles. He probably has Europe to thank for that. “I just wanted to show teams I was still healthy and I was able to pass a physical after that,” he said. “So I guess it helped as far as showing I was still healthy.” Collier got hurt again with the Eagles last fall, but he ended up in Winnipeg this spring after having a chat with former Bomber defensive end Phillip Hunt while in Philadelphia. Even though he didn’t land an NFL job after his journey to Europe, Collier is glad he did it. “It was pretty big where I was at,” he said. “It was a big fan base. I was on the best team out there, so it was a good time.” The Vikings are tied with the Turek Graz Giants for the most titles in Austrian Football League history, and they reached the final once again with a semifinal victory over the Danube Dragons on Sunday. Collier also got to soak up the European experience. He travelled at every opportunity, visiting Spain, Croatia, Germany and the Czech Republic, just to name a few. “It was a great time. I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he said. “They put us up in an apartment. I travelled around through Europe, so I got to enjoy that. I went to mostly every big city over there. It was kind of like a paid vacation.” And now the world travelling football player is experiencing another country, this time a little closer to home.

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