Patriots owner Robert Kraft says that now is the time for London to have an NFL franchise. Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t quite as enthusiastic, for now.
“As you know, we have determined we will have two regular-season games there next season,” Goodell told ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning. “The fans are reacting very positively to the game. The more we give them, the more they want. That is why we are expanding the series. If that continues, who knows where it goes down the road. I think we are quite a ways from having a franchise there, but I don’t rule it out as a possibility down the road if the game continues to grow.”
Goodell was equally non-committal regarding the prospect of returning to Los Angeles.
“We know we have millions of passionate fans in southern California,” Goodell said. “We want to get back there. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 17 years since the NFL was in Los Angeles with a team. We want to get back there, but it is going to take a stadium. There’s been some progress on getting a stadium built, but it’s critical that we have a stadium that works for the community, works for the team and really can help us . . . provide the experience that’s great for our fans and make sure that team is successful for the long term.”
He also left out the most important factor: The stadium deal must be as strong as possible for the NFL and the team that ends up there. The league carefully has accumulated a significant amount of bargaining power over the years, and the league always uses it.