This past Sunday marked the end of the London games for the NFL this season.
The three games that were played in London were match-ups between the following: The first game was between the Jets and the Dolphins which the Jets won 27-14. The second game, which made history by being the first NFL game to be streamed online by Yahoo!, involved a 34-31 Jaguars win over the Bills. The final game was a demolishing win by the Chiefs over the Lions 45-10.
There is no doubt that the game is growing in popularity overseas.
The NFL has been playing in London since 2007 and there has only been one instance where there was less than 80,000 spectators. The NFL has just signed a new contract which will now involve one game in London to be played in Twickenham Stadium every year as well as two in Wembly Stadium until 2020. Also, in 2018 the NFL has made a deal to have two more additional games in Tottenham’s new stadium. This will make it so that in 2018 there will be FIVE NFL games being played in London.
The NFL has come out and said that the ultimate goal is to have a team in London by 2022. While the idea is cool, there is just no way the NFL and the owners of teams are going to want to travel across the pond once a year. There very well maybe a fan base in London that wants to be a part of an NFL franchise. The players and the money are aspects that are going to derail the idea of a team in London.
The money aspect of the argument is not great. While the argument is there just because of travel costs, the NFL is making so much money that it will be fine eating up money spent on teams traveling there.
The main reason that this idea will not work is because of the players. Sorry, but there are not a lot of players from England playing in the NFL. The last player that played in the NFL and was born in England was Osi Umenyiora who is still looking for a job in the NFL after a very good career. The point is a lot of players are not going to want to play in England and be overshadowed by soccer players that are going to be more popular no matter what. Also the lifestyle and distance from home are going to play big factors for many NFL players. So, when it comes to free agency the players are simply not going to want and live in England for their careers. They are going to want to stay in the United States where they don’t have to apply for visas and be so far away from home. This endless cycle will lead to a below average team in London. Over time a decline in the excitement will happen, ultimately leading the NFL to remove their team in London and moving them back to the US.
So if you want to talk about expanding the league lets make it a priority to put teams in places that are going to keep a fan base. Cities like Los Angeles, Portland, San Antonio, Orlando and Las Vegas are all willing to have a team and have a better chance than London of keeping a franchise over time.
The idea of playing a couple of games a year in London is very cool but the NFL would be smart to realize that a team in London will not succeed.