Running back Maurice Jones-Drew made the trip to London last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their regular season game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Now with the Oakland Raiders, Jones-Drew will make another trip to London this season as the Raiders will face the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium in September.
The talk about the possibility of a full-time NFL team based in London has grown over the past several seasons as the league as expanded its presence in England. Jones-Drew believes the time for an NFL team in London is getting closer.
“You know what? I think they deserve one.” Jones-Drew said, via Neil Reynolds of BritViewNFL.com.“…I think the fans deserve it and London deserves it because it is a great city.”
For the first time, the NFL hosted two games in London in the same season last year as the Jaguars played the 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers faced the Minnesota Vikings. That program continues to grow this year with three games in London. The Raiders and Dolphins will meet Sept. 28, the Detroit Lions will face the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 26 and the Dallas Cowboys will face the Jaguars on Nov. 9.
The Jaguars are already locked into playing games in London in 2015 and 2016 as well.
Jones-Drew understands the difficulty inherent to basing a team in London when the rest of the league plays in the United States. He said the travel would be the most difficult factor to overcome in making an English franchise a reality.
“My only worry is the toll it would take for a team to go back and forth and how would you get that done?” Jones-Drew said. “There are some things they would have to work on – they might have to bring the Concorde back and cut that time in half. But you never know.”
The NFL is obviously intrigued by the possibility a London franchise presents. The league has played eight games in London over the past seven years with each game drawing at least 75,000 in attendance. It’s a shiny, lucrative potential market the league hopes to tap into in the future.
However, there are still hurdles to clear before that dream can become realized.