Roger Goodell's attempt at world dominance takes Cowboys to London in 2014
OCT 25, 2013 1:14a ET
At this rate it looks like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has more interest in placing a team in London than in Los Angeles. The league certainly gives lip service to LA, but you don't sense any real momentum on that front. Owners simply use the threat of relocating to Southern California when they need public money to build a new stadium.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones understandably jumped at the chance to play a road game at a foreign/neutral site because it helps his team's wildly popular brand. The NFL wanted to pair one of its marquee teams with the Jacksonville because, well, the Jags suck. They are basically the Washington Generals of the NFL, although the Generals are at least entertaining.
The NFL has been playing games in foreign locales for years, but most of them have been of the exhibition variety. Now, Goodell is upping the ante by sending six different teams to London during the same season. Four of them will be playing in their first regular-season games outside the states.
"Our fans in the UK continue to demonstrate their passion for more football," Goodell said in a statement Thursday. "Next year for the first time we will play three regular-season games in London. We have scheduled three attractive games with four teams playing in their first International Series game. The growing enthusiasm for the NFL internationally is exciting and we look forward to continuing to respond to this interest in our game."
The league used to have a developmental league called NFL Europe. The London-based team (Monarchs) ceased to exist after 1998 because they were only averaging a little more than 5,000 in attendance. Actual NFL games have been a much bigger draw at Wembley Stadium, but there's not enough evidence to suggest Londoners would support a team that was moved there permanently. American football will never catch up with the globalization of basketball. David Stern wisely tapped into that market many years ago. But that won't keep Goodell and NFL owners from trying to make a money grab.
Goodell's asking three NFL teams to give up a home game next season in order to grow the league's international audience. And while there might be some grumbling from players and coaches privately, they've been warned not to question the league's approach. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, who won't have to sacrifice a home game, sounded giddy about the opportunity to play abroad.
"It's a great opportunity for our organization to go over there and play and we're going to do what we need to do logistically to play our best,'' Garrett told reporters Thursday. ''It's Wembley Stadium, for crying out loud. It's one of the great stadiums in the world."
Careful, Jason. Jerry might not like you bragging on another venue. Wembley might have character and old-world charm, but it doesn't have a Sky Mirror.
Goodell is throwing the Brits a bone with a Detroit-Atlanta matchup next season. Maybe that will make up for exposing them to the Raiders. The NFL has become America's favored sport. But Goodell would also like it to be Great Britain's first choice.
Best I can tell, he's only 200 years late to the party.
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