As the NFL prepares for its fifth annual regular-season game in London, Commissioner Roger Goodell met with the media to answer questions, some of which understandably focused on the league’s future in London.
“The ultimate goal is to continue to expand our game,” Goodell said, via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “You see from the fans reaction today, they understand the game. They understand football, and they want more of it. So our job is to find more football and find more fans. If we’re successful with that, then maybe a franchise is part of that.”
Regardless of whether a team ever would be headquartered in London (and as I pointed out last night on NBC SportsTalk on VERSUS, it should happen but likely won’t), the league has now found a new source of stadium leverage, once one or two teams are moved to Los Angeles. As current American venues become obsolete and as NFL teams try to finagle public money to build new ones, the “or else” will be a possible move to London.
Maybe, in 20 years or so, serious progress will be made toward moving a team there, despite logistical issues that will force the London team to overpay for free agents — and which could prompt some draft picks to choose to sit out a year in lieu of leaving the U.S. of A. Until then “maybe” will work well for the NFL and its stadium-needy teams, especially after the 16-plus years of “maybe” in L.A. finally ends.