The blurb about the NFL expanding its annual London offering from two games to three contained an ominous footnote for fans in Jacksonville. According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that there’s a “good chance” the Jaguars will play two “home” games per year in London.
That would fit with the belief in some circles that the Jags eventually will split their schedule between Jacksonville and London. Sort of like the Packers used to do between Green Bay and Milwaukee. Only with, you know, an ocean in the middle.
The report has spawned an ocean of confusion. According to Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello says that Goodell didn’t say what Hubbuch says he said.
Hubbuch has since clarified, first by explaining that Goodell didn’t say “home” games and then with the exact on-tape quote from Goodell: “If we go to 3 London games, what we’ll likely do is ask Jax to potentially play 2 or ask 3 different teams to host.” (The last part — or ask three different teams to host — implies that, if the Jaguars are playing two games in London, they’d be hosting two games in London. Otherwise, there would be no need to have three different teams host games.)
Aiello also said, via Stellino, that the league is conducting an “internal analysis” of whether any team should or could play two games in London in any one season.
In our view, it doesn’t matter whether Jacksonville’s two games would be home games or road games or a blend. The more the Jaguars play in London, the more of a fan base they’ll develop, in theory. And if a fan base gets big enough, the Jaguars become the natural candidate to play more games there — home, road, or otherwise.
The Jaguars, for their part, aren’t saying much of anything. “Our focus is on one game per year we are committed to play there the next four years,” the team told Stellino. “That’s all we’re thinking about.”
Though Stellino interprets that as an unequivocal “no,” only an unequivocal “no” is an unequivocal “no.” And the Jaguars didn’t supply an unequivocal “no.”
More importantly, Goodell supplied the equivocal “yes.”