Undoubtedly, the negatives to a team in the United Kingdom could be expanded upon ad nausium; most notably why is the NFL even considering London as the first choice? Germany or Austria have won the EuroBowl (European Football League Championship) every year since 2002, and their markets are considerably larger… but I digress. The bottom line is that Whitworth’s stance is a cautionary word to a League that is hell-bent on advancing the Shield during this point in history while it is riding a significant high. Certainly, no fan of football can nor should begrudge the League the prospect of cashing in and growing the game. Greater profits equal more opportunities for the NFLPA to get their share as well as increases to future salary caps, but in the spirit of expansion, it would seem that there are better ways to squeeze this lemon than constructing a franchise overseas.
Oct 28, 2012; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Fans make their way past the Bobby Moore statue outside of Wembley Stadium prior to the NFL International Series game between the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots. Mandatory Credit: Joe Toth-USA TODAY Sports
If the NFL wants to shake things up for their overall profit lines, then consider some of the small things. For example, the NFL Draft could be held in the city of the team with the Number 1 overall pick. With the Draft becoming the extravaganza that it is, why should the Jets fans always be the ones who get front row seats? Radio City Musical Hall is a classic venue shrouded in history, but in order to conduct the NFL Draft, all the League would need is a large enough area, some tables, the proper wiring and a few helmets. The reason the Radio City is the location of choice is that it is right down the street from the NFL Front Office and that no matter the draft order or whether it is Day 1, 2 or 3 of the Draft, tickets will continue to be sold in a place like NYC. However, holding the Draft in a city that houses the franchise which has become the worst in the NFL has something of a redemptive feeling to it, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Even if only the 1st Round of the Draft was held elsewhere, in the right city, it would make for a massive event. Sure, they would have less time to schedule, and in 2014, even a year out wasn’t enough to avoid scheduling conflicts for the NFL at Radio City, but if dates can be flexible next off season, what’s too say that they can’t be each year in order to make this concept work?
Now, consider something a little more aggressive: each franchise must play the two non-division, inter-conference games at a neutral venue each year. Something like this would go far beyond two games in England each year. In actuality, the NFL could have two games in each city that ever held a NFL Europe franchise and still have fourteen games left to shuffle about the United States, Canada or Mexico. To be clear, in no way is there any personal recommendation on how that should be divided internationally or intra-nationally or at all for that matter. Truly, it might not even be a good idea; all that is being offered here is that thirty-two alternate bowls each season would not only present very big disadvantages to teams across the League, but it would also be a lock to sell out at whatever price was set if properly placed in juxtaposition of a starved fan-base. This leads into perhaps the one of the more radical, domestic and lucrative expansion options available.