Last year, Peter King reported that the league’s international experiment could soon feature one team making the trek to foreign soil on a regular basis, in the hopes of creating a stronger rooting interest.
Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the plan is very much alive, and that it would be unveiled at the earliest as part of the new labor deal.
“[What] we learned in the U.K. and Mexico and Canada is ultimately you get fans, and to develop that into avid fans . . . they have to have a team to root for, a team to love, the way you do that is to have enough games so one team can come back on a regular basis,” NFL chief marketing officer Mark Waller told Kaplan. “If you only have one game and different teams every year, it’s not enough.”
Waller also hinted that the league will eventually play four games per year in England — with two featuring the same teams on a “repeat” basis.
The prime candidates for a regular appearance at Wembley Stadium would be the teams that can’t sell out their American venues. The Jaguars and the Bucs are getting less than 50,000 fans to show up on a consistent basis; in England, the annual NFL game draws more than 80,000.
But here’s the unspoken yet inevitable reality. The teams chosen to build a fan base in England become the most likely to eventually move there.
Right now, we’d bet on the Bucs becoming one of the teams to regularly play in Britain — and on the Bucs becoming one of the eventual candidates to pack up the literal Mayflower and sail back to the land from which the earliest American immigrants came.