NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell really, really wants his name to go into the history books as one of the most influential sports commissioners in history. His pet project is the expansion of the NFL “Shield”, as he refers to it, overseas. In the past, Goodell has openly stated he wants a franchise in London and has suggested that the league host a Super Bowl across the pond.
The dreadful International Series started a few years ago with one game slated to be played in London. This year, two games will be played in London. As a result of the Owners meeting this afternoon, three games will be played overseas at Wembley Stadium in 2014. Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders will all see one fewer home game next season, as these three team will play “home” games in London. All three teams lose a home game for their fans which live here in the United States.
It’s one thing for baseball to try to pull this off with a 162 game schedule, but the NFL plays 8 home games per team each season. For season ticket holders and hardcore fans that attend games, losing one game is a big damn deal.
Looks as if Goodell and the owners are going to push this idea down NFL fans throats whether you like it or not.
Speaking to the media, Goodell tried to spin the games abroad, -
“Our fans in the UK have continued to demonstrate that they love football and want more. Both of this year’s games in London sold out quickly. The fan enthusiasm for our sport continues to grow. By playing two games in the UK this year, we are creating more fans. We hope that with three games in London next year we will attract even more people to our game.”
This year’s games featured the winless Minnesota Vikings against the winless Pittsburgh Steelers. Later this year, the second game will feature the winless Jacksonville Jaguars, arguably the worst team in the NFL playing host to the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers.
For those Jaguars fans that don’t think that the plans are in the works for the Jaguars to be the team moved to London, listen to these comments from owner Shad Khan. Comments from the official NFL press release-
“The experience the Jaguars have had already in London has been every bit what we anticipated and more, and this is all before we’ve even played our first game in Wembley Stadium,” said Jaguars owner SHAD KHAN. “We made the right decision to commit to playing a home game in London each season through 2016. The Jaguars have a broader worldwide fan base today and the anticipation for our London game later this month is shared by our loyal fans in Jacksonville, so it’s a perfect scenario for everyone. The energy and appetite for the NFL in the UK is incredible. The Raiders and Falcons will see for themselves next season.”
London is buzzing about the Jacksonville Jaguars? Seriously? I don’t even think Jacksonville is buzzing about the Jaguars. You can’t tell me that the NFL isn’t setting up the Jaguars as the team to move to London. You also can’t tell me that the London “fan base” is flocking to buy Jacksonville merchandise. Perhaps they don’t understand the game yet, when they do, the merchandise sales will stop.
It’s coming whether you like it or not. An 18 game regular season and a team in London within 5 years.