The NFL has pushed back plans to play a game in China. According to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the league has postponed staging a game there in 2018, targeting 2019 instead.
Per Kaplan, the league could open the 2019 season, its 100th anniversary, in China.
“It may make better sense to look at that game as an opportunity to celebrate our hundred years, in the event we can pull it off and as a way to look forward to the future,” NFL Executive Vice President/International Mark Waller said, via Kaplan.
The Rams, as the host team of the game, postponed the opening of their new stadium in Los Angeles from 2019 to 2020, allowing the league to move back the China game. The Rams now will give up a home game in 2019 to host the game in China.
The league will play four games in London and one in Mexico this season, with a Tottenham partnership beginning next season with two games. Thus, the China effort will wait, which is nothing new.
The league first had plans to play in China in 2007 in advance of the Beijing Olympics. The Patriots and Seahawks were scheduled to play a preseason game billed as the China Bowl. The NFL rescheduled that preseason game for 2009 and eventually scrapped the idea.
But China makes sense as the next market for the NFL to expand its brand.
During a promotional trip to China earlier this month, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady expressed a desire to play a game there before he retires. If Brady wants to play there, it’s probably a good thing he has plans to play a few more years. It appears that’s at least how long it’s going to be before the NFL takes its show there.