NFL boss hints at European division


Maybe future European NFL group Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

The National Football League (NFL) (US) has been hinting for years at the placement of a team in London (UK). For the first time ever, the league has hinted at the possibility for a four-team division based in Europe.

‘PFT’ stated and this one didn’t come from some mid-level executive whose extemporaneous remark will later be walked back by 345 Park Avenue (NFL headquarters at Midtown Manhattan, New York, US). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the statement himself, earlier on October 8th in London.

New York (US)-based the National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league that consists of 32 teams, divided equally between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

Asserted Goodell, “There’s no question that London could support not just one franchise, I think two franchises. I really believe that.”

‘PFT’ further stated that the fact that London has two NFL-ready stadiums proves that, if/when a team moves to London, it will be two, not one. Just like the league did when it returned to Los Angeles.

But then the Commissioner took it another step further. He made it clear that there will likely be a European division of NFL – “That’s part of what we’re doing, right? We’re trying to sort of see, could you have multiple locations in Europe where you could have an NFL franchise? Because it would be easier as a division.”

It would be easier as a division because those teams would play each other, twice per year. That’s 12 games per season that would be played among the European teams, without any of them having to travel to the United States, and without having any US teams having to travel to them.

Of course, there would still be plenty of trans-Atlantic travel. The European teams would otherwise host five or six (depending on the year) non-European teams, and they would play six or five (depending on the year) games in the US.

Travel is just one of the various issues to be resolved, when it comes to putting teams in Europe. Plenty of players won’t want to play there. Many free agents will target domestic markets. Some draft picks may even be inclined to refuse to sign with a team in London or Germany or wherever.

Still, it feels like inevitability that teams will be headquartered in London and possibly beyond. But while it’s no longer a matter of “if”, the “when” remains clearly unresolved.

The “who” will be an interesting issue as well. The four teams have to come from somewhere. So, either the current NFL Cities will be losing their teams, or the NFL will be expanding to as many as 36 franchises.

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