The NFL visits London three times this season, fueling speculation that the games will serve as the advance party for a full-fledged football invasion of the United Kingdom.
In Week 4, the Oakland Raiders play the Miami Dolphins. In Week 8, the Atlanta Falcons take on the Detroit Lions. And a fortnight later, the Dallas Cowboys go against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
When does London host a team instead of mere games?
Capitalizing on the NFL’s interest in expanding their marketplace, BritViewNFL.com has sprung up to cover football just when Brits transfix on that other football.
“You know what?” Raider running back Maurice Jones-Drew told the fledgling website of a London franchise. “I think they deserve one. It’s just the toll it takes on the body because it’s so hard to flyacross the pond. I think the fans deserve it and London deserves itbecause it is a great city.”
“Absolutely,” Raider quarterback Matt Schaub said of a London team. “I think that is definitely in the future.”
The British background of Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan, stadium issues in Oakland, and ownership instability in Buffalo all have made those struggling NFL cities grist for the rumor mill of relocation.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who seeks to boost revenues from around $10 billion a year to $25 billion annually sometime in the next decade, clearly sees London as part of the NFL’s $25 billion equation. He spoke enthusiastically about the NFL in London during Super Bowl week. He called three sellouts for the three 2014 London games “just another indication that the more we give the fans NFL football in the UK, the more they want.”