When it comes to the possibility of moving a team to London, the NFL is like the dad who threatens to turn this car around right now. It keeps saying it, and it will never do it.
Maybe not never. Maybe if supersonic passenger flight returns (or some other technology that allows people to get from one side of an ocean to the other quickly), the NFL will move a team there. Until then, that’s not happening. (Even then, it still may not happen.)
Via The Guardian, NFL executive V.P. Mark Waller said during Thursday’s announcement of the 2018 slate of London games that a team could be moving to London in the early years of the next decade.
“You could say it’s been an 11-year tease, but various strands would seem to be coming together,” Waller said. He was referring to the labor deal, which expires in early 2021, and the broadcast contracts, which expire in 2021 (Monday night) and 2022 (the rest of them).
It’s definitely been a tease, a tease aimed at getting people in London sufficiently fascinated about the possibility of getting a team of their own that they keep coughing up pounds and shillings of their own for the smattering of games they currently are getting.
That tease is going to continue, just like it has for the past decade. In 2009, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has “tremendous interest” in placing a team in London. (He’d tap the brakes a few days later.) Two years later, someone leaked to ESPN in connection with one of the annual England games that an expansion team could be coming in London.
This “NFL may bring a team to London” always comes up in connection with some event tied to the NFL’s visits to London, whether it’s an announcement of a London game to be played or the playing of the London game or anything else tied to London. It never comes up out of the blue or otherwise organically.
So it’s not an accident. It’s part of the selling of the NFL’s annual variety pack. And it likely will stay that way, at least until the folks in London finally say, “Rubbish.”