Report: NFL to stage developmental games in New Zealand

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A confusing report emerged over the weekend regarding the NFL’s ongoing plan for world domination. It involves the NFL going to New Zealand. But it apparently doesn’t involve the NFL’s best players making the trek.

According to the Sunday Star Times (via SportsBusiness Daily), a weekend publication based in Auckland, the NFL will stage a pair of exhibition contests in New Zealand later this year. But it won’t be a pair of preseason games; instead, squads reportedly will be selected from the players who fail to make the final 53-man rosters of six NFL teams, including the Cowboys, 49ers, and Cardinals.

This approach could mean that a pair of New Zealand rugby stars — Jarred Hayne of the 49ers and Paul Lasike of the Cardinals — could be among the players returning to play American football.

Plenty of details are unclear (including the names of the teams), and the article has some factual inaccuracies, including an assertion that the players for the New Zealand games will be picked by two “high-profile” coaches “[o]nce the final 53-man rosters for the 2015-16 season . . . are confirmed in late July” (it actually happens in early September) and a claim that the Dallas Cowboys “have about 300 players on their books” (the offseason limit is 90).

It’s also unclear how the opportunity to play what essentially will be developmental games in New Zealand will mesh with a player’s ability to accept an offer to join another NFL team, given the inevitable churning that occurs at the bottom of NFL rosters after the final 53-man squads are set. Will, for example, a quarterback who agrees to play in New Zealand be allowed to bail on the commitment if/when an offer to sign with another NFL team emerges? Will players on practice squads be eligible to play in New Zealand?

After catching wind of the Sunday Star Times article over the weekend, PFT asked the league office for comment on the reported plan; no response was received. The decision of the folks at SportsBusiness Daily to include the item in the Monday edition of the weekday morning feature known as the “Opening Bell” prompted PFT to share this intriguing-but-incomplete news with this audience.

We’ll keep trying to provide more complete details. That should happen by Wednesday at the latest, when according to the Sunday Star Times the plan will be officially announced at a press conference in New Zealand.

41 responses to “Report: NFL to stage developmental games in New Zealand

  1. I don’t mind expanding overseas and think its inevitable.

    Surely there’s a better way than sending players too crappy to make the league however. Especially since they’ll be what, a random mix of whoever the league thinks is best from the ones that didn’t make all the teams ? So they’ll be no consistency between the systems the different players were working under.

    Smells of fail to me.

  2. Who is behind this movement of the NFL to Globalize NFL games?

    It is not Goodell & the Owners – Something much BIGGER and more DEVIOUS.

    It will no longer be NFL where N=National.

    Welcome to the new GFL = GLOBAL Football League.

    Anyone else see the DANGER & EXPLOITATION of American Interest in this ???

  3. Mark Cuban was right about the NFL. They should focus on doing things better in the US than worrying how they are going to make the NFL a global league

  4. When I was in New Zealand in 2003, I saw a poll in the newspaper asking citizens what the most stressful job in the country was. Here are the results:

    1) Prime Minister
    2) Captain of the All-Blacks (the national rugby team)

    I don’t think this bodes particularly well for the NFL. The primary sport in England (soccer) is not a contact sport per se, so there may be room for football as an alternative. In NZ, Rugby is virtually all there is. When they won the World Cup in 2011, it was celebrated as one of the biggest accomplishments in the NATION’S history.

    I’m not sure they are in need of a contact sport “alternative” to follow.

  5. Next up is the Antarctica league, the Buffalo Bills are already favorites for over half the schedule.

  6. Stupid idea. Doing a quick google search it’s a min. of 13 hrs. to fly from LA to New Zealand. How jet leagued and ridiculously fatigued would players be adjusting to the time change if the NFL was ever dumb enough to do this for real games? Quit screwing with the league and keep it in the UNITED STATES!

  7. Where are all of these players going to come from?? There arent enough quality QB’s to go around as it is with only 32 teams. The game is going to be watered down. I hate the idea.

  8. anyone catch the superbowl xxxvi highlight on nfl network over the weekend? When the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS COMPLETLEY OWNED the “greatest show on turf” hahahah love it

  9. Goodell is likely salivating at the endless supply of untaped talent from the different indigenous peoples of the Pacific

  10. How about the NFL starts a league for just countries abroad?…like London, Amersterdam, Barcelona, Frankfort?…..OH WAIT !…they did do that and it was a total failure because the fan support was’nt there. They called it the World Football league. What’s changed?

  11. littlescuppernong says:
    Jun 1, 2015 10:13 AM

    Roger Sauron’s eye sees far and wide.
    One of the funnier comments I’ve seen on here in a while. Well done.

  12. This must certainly be a ploy to recruit athletes to play American football–the plane trip to New Zealand makes a flight to London seem like a beer run at half time.

  13. one of the dumber ideas i have heard in a while. not trying to be funny here but is NZ in the same hemisphere as austrai?????? is it not winter down there now. what season will it be when these”exhibitions ” are held???

  14. Just start a minor league already and let those teams play preseason games overseas. As the minor league teams aren’t filled until after the 53 man rosters are set, the preseason for this league can start in September.


  15. NZ is an awesome destination, visited many times. The female population likes Americans for some reason. Always a pleasure to visit, way beautiful with beautiful, very nice people in general. As for football and playing there, there is a risk that some of these developmental players and taxi squad, haven’t used this term in long while, could get hurt setting back possible 53 man rosters. Risky but maybe an avenue to make a team too.

  16. How about creating a Developmental/ minor leagues in the place where football is actually popular? The interest is certainly there. No, the NCAA is not the answer because there’s a time limit for when athletes can play. And there’s the little matter of going to classes (unless you’re in the SEC) to stay eligible. Athletes are just entering their prime by the time school is done, and then what?

  17. I’m wondering if the staging will be a lot like the game the NFL staged between the cowboys and lions last postseason. You know, just completely rigged.

  18. What happens if there aren’t enough scrubs for 2 teams at every position? You need, without any backups, then at least 4 OG, 4 OT, 2 C, 2 QB, 4 TE, 4 RB, 4 WR, 2 K(that will be hard to get), 2 P(..same problem), 4 DE, either 2 or 4 DT depending on 4-3 or 3-4 defense, 6-8 LB depending again on defensive scheme, 4 safeties, and 6-8 CB. What guarantee is there there will be enough skill position cuts at every position to even cover this pared down roster?
    Let’s see, the NFL Europe developmental league was a failure because even an 8 game schedule let the novelty wear off, so how would a team fare in Europe with a full schedule?

  19. As someone living in Auckland I welcome this news and will attend even if scrubs are sent over.

    Rugby, despite still being NZ’s #1 sport by a longshot is actually dying as a spectator sport and the NFL is starting to get a big following over here.

  20. Point 1 for those that actually care, Jarryd Hayne is Australian, with Fijiian heritage.

    And point 2, he played Rugby League, not Rugby Union, which is actually a totally different game and set of rules.

  21. jonathankrobinson424 says:
    Jun 1, 2015 10:35 AM
    How about the NFL starts a league for just countries abroad?…like London, Amersterdam, Barcelona, Frankfort?…..OH WAIT !…they did do that and it was a total failure because the fan support was’nt there. They called it the World Football league. What’s changed?
    You’re confusing the World League of American Football with its later offshoot NFL Europe. I went to every WLAF London Monarchs home game at Wembley. Many games had 40-60,000, same happened in the other cities you list, and I think Montreal. The problem was twofold:
    1) The NFL wanted to maximise income by getting WLAF to take off as a spring league with teams in the US too, but the US just wasn’t interested.
    2) The NFL promised to invest in the WLAF for at least 5 years, but pulled out after just 2! When they regurgitated the idea as NFL Europe a few years later, me and my UK-based friends didn’t bother because we no longer trusted the NFL to commit to the investment – breaking into the UK’s extremely deep, long established sporting portfolio would take at least a decade or two just to get noticed. And our hunch was right, the NFL pulled out too soon yet again.

    That said, neither effort was a total failure – hundreds of NFL players and coaches (including Jason Garrett and his brother, and Jim Tomsula etc – long list) owe their careers to the extra chances that these leagues gave them, and watching the US game has slowly become a more accepted thing here in the UK.

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