NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t satisfied with just running the most popular sport in the United States. He wants to see American football grow abroad until it reaches the point where it becomes an Olympic sport.
Goodell told Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show that football has taken many of the steps necessary to get recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
“Absolutely. We’re already taking steps to gain that IOC recognition. We have, I think, 64 countries that are playing American football now, and that’s one of the requirements. That’s been growing dramatically — I think it was 40 just five years ago,” Goodell said.
Goodell said he doesn’t have a specific timetable for when that could happen, but he does hope the IOC continues to keep an eye on the growth of the sport internationally. He noted specifically that the NFL has been successful with its annual game in London, and that it won’t be long before the league has two games a year in London — and after that, maybe eight a year.
“Our point is just to keep growing the game,” Goodell said. “We’re having a tremendous reaction in London and the UK for the game of football, our regular season game over there is sold out again this year, we are seriously contemplating as early as 2013 playing two NFL games next season and I think we’ll do that. It’s a response to the tremendous fan reaction and the growth of the game. If we can continue to grow the game there and have the fan reaction that we have, there very well may be a franchise in London.”
With the potential for an NFL franchise in London, and perhaps some day dozens of amateur teams representing their countries by playing football in the Olympics, international expansion is clearly a goal that Goodell wants to be a major part of his legacy as commissioner.