Thousands of fans broke into a rendition of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” on Sunday at the NFL‘s first regular-season game in Germany.
During the fourth quarter between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks at Allianz Arena in Munich, many in the crowd of some 70,000 fans joined in singing John Denver’s 1971 smash hit. Videos of the moment went viral on social media, amassing hundreds of thousands of views in just a few hours.
Greg Auman, staff writer for The Athletic covering the Buccaneers, posted a video to Twitter showing the crowd breaking into song. In the footage, the song is being played over the public address system while the crowd sings along.
In the stands on the opposite end of the field, fans can be seen waving their mobile phones while shining their flashlights. “And yes, that Bavarian classic, ‘Country Roads,’ sung with passion by the Munich crowd,” Auman captioned the video.
And yes, that Bavarian classic, “Country Roads,” sung with passion by the Munich crowd. pic.twitter.com/2c00o4bFVH
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) November 13, 2022
“Good Morning Football” host Jamie Erdahl Buckman posted another video from the sidelines, in which attendees be heard filling the stadium with song.
— Jamie Erdahl 💍 Buckman (@JamieErdahl) November 13, 2022
The song also caught the attention of the NFL Network broadcast crew, who joined in briefly from the broadcast booth.
They’re singing Country Roads in Germany. This atmosphere is pretty cool. pic.twitter.com/kHpnUYT3pS
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 13, 2022
The crowd also made an impact on Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
“That was one of the great football experiences I’ve ever had,” he said at the post-game press conference. “It says a lot for 23 years in the league and for a regular-season game. I think the fan turnout was incredible. It felt, like, very electric from the time we took the field. The end of the game, with them singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Country Roads,’ that was pretty epic. So I think everyone who’s a part of that experience got to have something pretty amazing, [a] memory for the rest of their life. So thank you for hosting us, we appreciate it. Thank you.”
“Country Roads” has a prominent history in Germany. In 2013, songwriter Bill Danoff performed the song for the annual “Day of German Unity” hosted by the German embassy in the U.S. According to the Washington Post, the crowd of 2500 guests enthusiastically joined in the song, then asked him to perform an encore. Asked by the Post why he thought the song was so popular, Danoff, who wrote the song for Denver, said simply, “I have no idea.”
“First of all, it’s very singable,” Danoff added at the time. “But so is ‘Call Me Maybe.’ Maybe ‘Call Me Maybe’ will be the song 40 years from now.”
The song also has a special connection as Munich is home to Oktoberfest, the German folk festival famous for beer, and the 70s country hit is one of the most popular drinking songs favored by the attendees. According to data from Spotify, the song was streamed nearly 190,000 times in Germany on the first day of Oktoberfest 2018. In the U.S., it was streamed more than 850,000 times that same day.
The song is more widely known among American football fans because of its affiliation with West Virginia University. It is the theme song of the university and is frequently played at school events, including at every home football game.