Ryan Clark: I’d retire before playing for a London team

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The Steelers will play in London on Sunday, and safety Ryan Clark doesn’t have a problem with that. But he’d have a big problem with an NFL franchise relocating to London.

In fact, Clark said on ESPN that if he played for a team that moved to London, that would be the end of his NFL career.

“I’d retire. I’d definitely retire,” Clark said.

Clark said he doesn’t see how an NFL team in London could compete, and doesn’t see why any NFL player would want to play there.

“That team would be asked to travel eight weeks of the season extremely far away,” he said. “It would be extremely tough to ask. I don’t know if guys want to relocate their families, have their families educated in London, have their families relocate to London. It just seems like a hard deal for players to do. I can’t see unrestricted top notch top caliber free agents wanting to go to London to play football.”

Clark isn’t the first to express such feelings. Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said last year that he, too, would quit before playing in London. Attracting free agents will be a major problem for an NFL team in London, when and if the NFL moves a team there.

47 responses to “Ryan Clark: I’d retire before playing for a London team

  1. Attracting the top free agents would be tough, but theres a ton of guys each year that cant find work, and cant figure out why. Theyd go there. Itd be difficult to field a winning team consistently.

  2. Any London team would fold within five years. It would never be competitive and any good players they drafted would bolt at the first chance they had.

  3. They are bluffing. Somebody else then will make 10s of millions in one of the great cities with beautiful black woman from all over the world while the guys who said no thank you are in Cleveland

  4. I don’t buy the time difference argument. London is not that far away and playing there, or them playing in the States would not be that big of an adjustment (time-wise). I also don’t think it is a huge issue of being out of the country. Sure families may not want to relocate to London, but heck, some don’t relocate to the cities where dad plays right now. There are tons of guys who live in Green Bay during the year and out in California in the offseason. London would be the same deal.

    I really think the reason not to do this is because the NFL is a uniquely American game that has not been shown (no matter how hard we’ve tried) to have wide international appeal. Similar to soccer in the U.S. You may have pockets of fans, but you would never see a Premier League soccer team relocate to the U.S.

    I say give London the Pro-Bowl or some exhibition games. There are plenty of U.S. markets that would support an NFL team. I think Roger should be pursuing other cities besides L.A. and London. I know he’s looking for the big markets and the big cash, but the NFL is gonna make money no matter where it is. Why the need to farm out an American game to a country that is lukewarm toward the NFL? And why keep pushing the NFL on L.A. when they have proven time and again they won’t support a team? Why not give a smaller market a shot? Just don’t put it in a state with two other teams (see: Jacksonville) and you should have a rabid fan base. Look at the success of the OKC Thunder in the NBA. That was a great example of relocating to a small market done right. Why can’t the NFL at least explore that option? There are some great football regions lacking a pro team. Iowa, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Minnesota 🙂

  5. First off, London is a four or five hour difference from the east coast of the US (can vary based on the daylight savings time in effect). That’s 7 to 8 hours later than west coast time – huge impact for any team based in London and any team having to travel there.

    Second, I’m OK with a London-based NFL team as soon as the English Premier League adds New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Oh that’s right, the EPL isn’t stupid or greedy (or stupid greedy) to hatch such a dumb plan.

  6. Really, wisportsfanbbb? You don’t buy the time difference problem for London?

    Let’s see … when the Sunday, Monday, and Thursday night games kick off around 8:30 EST, it will be 1:30 a.m. London time. Do you really think working British fans will sit up until 4 a.m. to watch those games live? So you’ve already got a problem finding a way for the the U.K. audience to watch the popular NFL night games. And if their team is going to be a member of an NFL division, surely they’ll want to see the other NFL games as they’re played, right? Are we going to stop showing night games because it will be impossible for the fans of ONE team to follow?

  7. Lets say that Ryan Clark hated the idea of playing in London and Troy Polamalu loved it and was excited about the glamour of one of the worlds biggest cities and going to clubs and meeting fashion models. Clark would be free to speak out. Polamalu would alienate his fan base in Pittsburgh if he suggested London was an attractive destination. Its not neccessarily that players opinions are unanimous, it may just be that only one opinion can be voiced without backlash.

  8. If the nfl were seriously thinking about relocating to a different country maybe they should try something a little closer to home like Canada. Not a fan of the idea but it’s a business and they’ll ultimately expand wherever they think they’ll make a buck or two.

  9. Maybe if you bumped their salary by an automatic 20%, and they played 2 or more games in a row at home/away?

  10. It all depends on whether the players will paid in US dollars or the pound. The pound is worth so much more than the dollar that it may be a great incentive to play for that team!

  11. Are people in London really clamoring for an NFL team? I gather the one NFL game there a year does well, but I doubt the English want more than that.

    If I’m Goodell, though, and I can sell them on taking Jacksonville, I”m doing back flips.

  12. Probably a lot of reasons why an NFL franchise in London isn’t ideal, but I can’t think of more than 1-2 current NFL cities (max) in which I would rather be a millionaire.

  13. As a Brit who deeply loves the the game i have never ever been comfortable with this idea of a London team. It would be the biggest mistake the NFL would ever make. I find it quite frankly ridiculous.

  14. A team in Toronto would be viable AND make the NFL International, which they seem hell bent on being.

  15. I can’t see this working unless the London team was granted extra home games. Like 12 home games and 4 away games that they could take in two separate tours of the States. This would compensate some for the inability to attract free agents of caliber.

    Otherwise maybe the NFL should move multiple teams or grant multiple franchises to make a European division so the majority of travel games wouldn’t be overseas.

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