NFL should avoid expansion, move two teams to London & L.A.
About 84,000 Brits and otherwise packed Wembley Stadium on Sunday –– and, no, it wasn't for an EPL match between Manchester United and another soccer powerhouse. Sure, a football game was played, but not the football the English are accustomed to. In thrilling fashion, the Detroit Lions defeated the Atlanta Falcons 22-21 in front of a sold-out London crowd.
With attendance numbers like that, all three London games being sold out this year, and now reports that the league will add two more games at Wembley next year, it seems like a forgone conclusion that the NFL will soon have a permanent team across the pond.
The NFL already has a surplus of terrible teams, so there's no need to water down the league any further through expansion. Moving a current team is the way to go if football is going to find a home in the U.K. Some candidates: the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington (insert racist name)'s, and the Buffalo Bills.
Of the four, the least likely to be relocated is the team from Washington, D.C. Imagine the uproar that would ensue if the lone NFL team in our country's capital was moved to England. I can just see the Fox News headline now: WAR ON FOOTBALL: TRAITOR OBAMA ALLOWS BRITS TO TAKE OUR TEAM.
More likely to be moved than Washington are the Buccaneers or Jaguars, but you have to take travel into account for the teams in their divisions. Flight times to London are approximately 10 hours from Houston and New Orleans, nine hours from Atlanta, Tennessee and Indianapolis, and eight and a half hours from Carolina. However, Jacksonville has the advantage of being owned by Shahid Khan, who also owns an English soccer team, Fulham. This could come into play when and if the NFL decides to move a franchise to London.
The best candidate to move its franchise to England are the Buffalo Bills. There are already two NFL teams in the state of New York, and the travel wouldn't be tough for New England (seven-hour flight) or the New York Jets (seven and a half hours). Miami would lose out in this situation since its flight would be over nine hours, but that would reciprocate in that London's team would have to make the same trip.
There's no doubt that London wants a football team –– the U.K. government even said so last week. However, the buck stops as soon as it becomes a British pound. No matter the demand, the NFL should not expand further into Europe. NFL Europa was a very costly endeavor for the league before it closed in 2007.
The Goodell-bot is programmed to make as much money as possible no matter the circumstances or repercussions, and the NFL was losing upward of $30 million per year with NFL Europa. There's plenty of money to be made in London, but expanding the league anywhere else would be anything but profitable.
Back in the U.S., one city that the NFL must relocate a team to is Los Angeles. It only makes sense for this team to be the St. Louis Rams, who left L.A. in 1994 and share a division with Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona. In January, Rams owner Stan Kroenke bought a plot of land in the Inglewood area adjacent to the Forum, where the Lakers used to play. This lot has been described as the perfect spot for a football stadium, and a L.A. team would generate plenty of fan support. More importantly for Goodell and company, however, it would generate plenty of sweet, sweet revenue.
London and L.A. should be target destinations for the NFL to relocate some of its lowliest franchises. Rabid fan bases, popularity boosts and plenty of profits lie across the pond and in southern California if the league is willing to make the moves. All it has to do is avoid the temptation of trickling further into Europe.
Reach the columnist at RClarke6@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @RClarkeASU
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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