It started with speculation. It led to action. It now (might) have traction.
Can you picture an NFL team in London, England? I, for one, cannot fathom it.
We'll get into the reasons why in a moment. While the NFL has been going to London for games for the past several years, there are still many questions about the viability of an American football team playing out of a town that lives and dies for "international" football. Are the people of the fine city of London (and conceivably the surrounding areas) flooding to Wembley and packing the stadium each time the NFL struts into town because they sincerely enjoy the North American version of football, or are they simply there because it's something new, shiny, and pretty?
The NFL continues to increase their presence overseas, even though NFL Europa was a failure back in the 90's and early 2000's. While moving a team to London represents a completely different type of challenge, there are plenty of reasons, that have nothing to do with finances, that hold as arguments against moving a team overseas (or expanding, which might be even worse).
The NFL is a mighty entity, and they probably feel they can try anything and either succeed beyond their wildest dreams or live with the loss of a couple millions the way only a multi-billion dollar entertainment corporation can. I personally would not be shocked in the slightest if the NFL someday out of the blue announces that they are permanently placing a franchise in London - and quite honestly, I won't lose any sleep over it (assuming it's not my team moving there). I can't imagine how Americans would feel about losing a franchise to a city that has only "proven itself" based on a couple of well-received regular season games.
All in all, I disapprove of the idea. I can think of at least ten reasons, but there are probably more - and while Roger Goodell won't listen to what you and I might have to say about it, one can hope he's smart enough to realize on his own why a London-based franchise is a bad idea.
10 10. Scheduling Issues
9 9. Will Players Want to Play Overseas?
8 8. The Fanbase Isn't Big Enough
You might argue that the NFL has consistently filled London-played games with 80,000+ fans throughout the seven years of playing games there.
"There are plenty of fans in London, look at those numbers," you might say.
Take it from the league itself then. MMQB.com writer Don Banks wrote this earlier this season: "This week the NFL’s managing director of operations in the United Kingdom, Alistair Kirkwood, suggested it would require a 'tripling' of the current football fan base in order to support a team full-time in London."
7 7. American Football Has Already Failed in Europe
6 6. There's No Talent Base Overseas
5 5. Bye Weeks
Every time a team heads over to London for a game, they usually end up having a coinciding bye week to recover from the jet lag. That makes perfect sense.
4 4. Soccer Will Always Come First
3 3. A Diluted Talent Pool
2 2. Los Angeles is Ready for Another Shot
1 1. It's Called American Football for a Reason
I am a proud Canadian, but I want no part of the National Football League north of the border - partially because it could severely threaten the already teetering Canadian Football League, but because there's something purely American about the NFL that makes it feels almost treasonous to have a team placed anywhere other than an American city. There's no country that can do football the way Americans do, and while I'm all for growing awareness and promoting the game around the world, I can't agree that having an NFL team in London would be a good move.
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