Roger Goodell hints at a four-team European division

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints - NFL London Games 2022 - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
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The NFL has been hinting for years at the placement of a team in London. For the first time ever, the league has hinted at the possibility for a four-team division based in Europe.

And this one didn’t come from some mid-level executive whose extemporaneous remark will later be walked back by 345 Park Avenue. Commissioner Roger Goodell made the statement himself, earlier today in London.

“There’s no question that London could support not just one franchise, I think two franchises,” Goodell began. “I really believe that.”

The fact that London has two NFL-ready stadiums proves that, if/when a team moves to London, it will be two, not one. Just like the league did when it returned to L.A.

But then the Commissioner took it another step. After Neil Reynolds jokingly asked for a European division, Goodell made it clear that the possibility is no joke.

“That’s part of what we’re doing, right?” Goodell said. “We’re trying to sort of see, could you have multiple locations in Europe where you could have an NFL franchise? Because it would be easier as a division.”

It would be easier as a division because those teams would play each other, twice per year. That’s twelve games per season that would be played among the European teams, without any of them having to travel to the U.S., and without having any U.S. teams having to travel to them.

Of course, there would still be plenty of trans-Atlantic travel. The European teams would otherwise host five or six (depending on the year) non-European teams, and they would play six or five (depending on the year) games in the U.S.

Travel is just one of the various issues to be resolved, when it comes to putting teams in Europe. Plenty of players won’t want to play there. Many free agents will target domestic markets. Some draft picks may even be inclined to refuse to sign with a team in London or Germany or wherever.

Still, it feels like an inevitability that teams will be headquartered in London and possibly beyond. But while it’s no longer a matter of “if,” the “when” remains clearly unresolved.

The “who” will be an interesting issue as well. The four teams have to come from somewhere. So either current NFL cities will be losing their teams, or the NFL will be expanding to as many as 36 franchises.

And here’s where I gratuitously point out that these are among the issues addressed in Playmakers. Available wherever you buy your books. Or at your local library. But do you really want to read a book someone else has taken into their bathroom?

110 responses to “Roger Goodell hints at a four-team European division

  1. NOT enough quality QBs for 36 NFL teams.

    32 teams is fine….and 16 games was enough.

    Leave the NFL alone, Roger.

  2. Tyreek Hill recently said he picked Miami in free agency to avoid a state income tax. Most European countries have higher tax rates than the US. What players would want to live on the other side of the world from everything they know and pay more of their salary in taxes? That’s probably only reason #473 why it will never happen.

  3. How could this possibly come as a surprise to anyone? With the extended travel between Europe and North America, of course they’re going to have to have a division there so teams get 8-9 home games, and play at least three road games within the EU. And their non-divisional opponents are probably going to have to skew more heavily to East Coast teams than the current formula.

  4. Guys who have made billions are “lateral thinkers”, hence the run of the mill folks, like myself, need to hold fire when they come up with weird ideas. Let’s stay on the sidelines and gauge how things play out.
    Everyday logic doesn’t cut it when it comes to futuristic visions.

  5. Don’t you folks know this is not a football decision but how many more jerseys you can sell.

  6. Every other sport has players who go overseas to make a living and play. Do you guys really think college football players are going to say no please dont pay me millions to play football even if you have to live in Europe for 6 months out of the year ?

  7. This whole NFL in Europe thing reminds me of a town in West Texas called ‘El Paso’.

  8. The Vikings haven’t had any success in North America. Put them back in Europe, where they belong.

  9. Their are plenty of cities in the US that would want a team. Stop the insanity

  10. The NFL (National Football League) now turns into the IFL (International Football League)??

  11. Why not put an entire league in Europe and have the Super Bowl winners from each country square off?

  12. Yes, but Rogie, why are you currently cheating in front of the NFL customer, protecting the Dolphins for a clear, gameday violation of intent with regards to a safety protocol?

    Rogie…Oh Rogie!

  13. Why not put an entire league in Europe and have the Super Bowl winners from each country square off?

    this is not a bad idea, two separate leagues, that would keep the US teams on US soil until the big game.

  14. The Berlin Panthers or Jets, Paris Charges (LA doesn’t want this team), London Jags (almost guaranteed) and until their new stadium is built Amsterdam Bills, Bears, Broncos, anyone else that wants a new stadium (extortion NFL style).

  15. Tuesdays are open. A team could play Sunday, hop the team plane that night. “Quickly” adjust to time change, play and return. Heck maybe even squeeze in a Thursday nighter, too.
    What could go wrong? Player’s health you say? Taxes you say? As they say in Merry Old England, “Fiddle sticks!” It’s all for the good of the game and the European fans!

  16. Yes, this is something the NFL would love, but I think they’ve come to a conclusion that there aren’t three other European cities who could be home to NFL franchises. Goodell is trying to shoehorn this European division into a continent that isn’t quite ready for 4 teams. London and Berlin can probably each support a team. Poland as well but politics are making that seem untenable at the moment. I think they should consider putting teams in Mexico and Brazil and scheduling them to play U.S. teams before traveling to Europe, just to minimize flight times.

  17. Bigger isn’t necessarily Better.
    What person wants to move their family to Europe to play football ?
    I think having European based NFL teams is a stupid idea,… and borders on being greedy. You know damn well it’s all about the money.

  18. It’s time the fans revolted. The NFL cares nothing about its current fan base never has. They only care about the money. Now they’re going to take the game that we supported for almost a hundred years and toss it to a bunch of Europeans. Have you ever seen a quality game played in Europe? The jet like is too much for some players makes the game lousy. It’s too bad friends would never get together to be able to protest. Money always wins out

  19. Fire Goodell! the worst commish in the history of all sports.43 million a year for this??Very bad idea but then again I know they don’t give a hoot about the fans.

  20. A lot of negative reaction in this post, but I love it. Imagine 18 game season with a 5th division in Europe. With multiple bye weeks for each team, the NFL season could run from September to march, maybe April. Has anybody noticed the number of great QBs coming out lately. From 2017 to 2021, roughly 8-9 great QBs. When previously we had the same 5 elite QBs for 15 years. There is plenty of talent coming out each year. More josh allens and mahomes on their way.

  21. NFL Europe failed from lack of attendance. London was one of the few bright spots of that league.

    Honestly, how many 20 something Americans who probably don’t speak a second language and if they do it is Spanish are going to want to go to Europe to play? Higher taxes (a lot higher). Most of the places will be English as a second language. It is hard to build up your brand for after football.

    Mexico City, St. Louis, Toronto, San Antonio. There are four cities (two outside the US) in similar timezones. No longer flight than what the men have to do today. Switch to 3 6 team divisions. 10 games in division. 6 against another division, 1 against the same ranked team in one of the other divisions. That’s a 5 year rotation instead of a 7 year rotation.

  22. So you think playersay not want to play in London or Munich, but Green Bay and Cleveland are totally sought after destinations?

  23. This is a horrible idea. Watering down the product and making it unwatchable. Players would hate it too I’m sure. If you want to expand into Europe, make it a separate league. Oh wait, they tried that once and it failed, right???

  24. So you just got on a hard fought division game Sunday afternoon, now it’s time to immediately turn around and fly to London for the weekly Bezos Bowl on Thursday.

  25. As a UK based NFL fan, I can understand the negativity, but the NFL is now a global business, and the demand is there. We typically get 5 live games a week, and the main broadcaster ‘Sky Sports’ has a dedicated NFL channel, including a lot of US shows. Agree other cities in North America could support a franchise, but London has a population of 9m, and the UK has 65m potential customers. As a couple of posters have said, the League and the Owners want the $$$ (or £££), and the largest growth markets are overseas.

    Personally, I’ve no great desire to see a UK based team. I’m a Dolphins fan, and having a team in London would’t change that, but I would go to the games. Over time, a new – or relocated team would build a fan base of its own. I’d also hate to see a team picked up from a city and moved – it’s bad enough moving from LA to LV, let alone to another continent – and it’s an alien concept over here, and it would cause riots if a major UK sports team tried to move. I can’t think of any worse way to treat fans. Players will also generally play – some will refuse; those with options at the top of the draft, but given the choice of playing in London, or not playing at all, it’s a no brainer for a large proportion of college kids.

    Whatever your view, it will happen, and the question is when, not if.

  26. But do you really want to read a book someone else has taken into their bathroom?

    Makes you not want to not buy used books.

  27. Yep.

    Right again. This is why he’s been cheating. You can’t sell NFL in Europe with a Pats Dynasty and low ratings like they had when NE formed the 2nd dynasty.

  28. Considering no one outside of the US cares about American football (I say this as a first generation immigrant, came here at 4 years old, and now an American who absolutely loves the NFL as my favorite sport), this is the most delusional waste of time ever…but classic American lack of awareness of the priorities of the rest of the world.

  29. This is the same old song and dance they’ve been saying for years. Nothing will actually happen. Nothing to see here people.

  30. There are so many owners who inherited their teams, and they don’t really have much interest in the sport. It’s just about the money. That’s why all the games come down to the wire. The refs are manipulating the TV ratings so they can collect more from sponsors. It’s why every playoff game last year was decided on the final play. It’s why every team except a couple, still had playoff hopes alive until week 15 last year. It’s still a sport, but it’s getting more and more like a Hollywood production. That’s why they pretend they’re trying to get the calls right with that silly archaic replay system. They’re manipulating the games to bring in more revenue, and they’re doing a great job. They’re just ruining the game. Did you not see Gilmore grab Sutton on the final play of the Colts game? Sutton faked him out of his jock and he would have had four yards separation, but Gilmore grabbed him with both hands. A loss would have made it real difficult for the Colts to have any serious playoff hopes, and that’s bad for ratings. They’re keeping the games close with calls and no-calls, then at the end of games they’re deciding which team needs the win more. The owners are making plenty of money. It’s American football. They don’t need to become an international league.

  31. Better hope the weather’s mild from September through January Roger, otherwise the German and English teams will have very cold, dark locker rooms and no power for their 150-metre diagonal scoreboards! Then again, sounds pleasantly ol’ school…

  32. Every US Corporation realizes you have to grow and expand to survive in this economy. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nike, are all thriving overseas. Why should the NFL be any different? It’s a changing world, folks.

  33. What we learned from this article. Everyone cheats except the pats. It’s cheating to put in a qb with a concussion it gives the concussed qb a huge advantage. And, people make fun of millennials but they themselves are way worse in the crying department.

  34. You just had a game on Thursday night with two former all-pro QBs and the teams could only manage field goals. Zero touchdowns. Dontcha think the talent level is diluted enough as it is?

  35. I disagree with the notion there aren’t enough QB’s for 4 more teams. First off, we had 3 starters on the bench to begin the year (Garapollo, Minshew, and Huntley). Even removing those, many teams still have high quality backups. The fact is there are QBs out there who just need reps/coaching. If not for injury, we may never have known the GOAT. Parity would be more likely, but I enjoy that. I would rather see many teams competitive than a few juggernauts.

  36. Everyone saying College players won’t want to play in Europe are assuming all future generations are strictly from the US.

  37. Seems hard for some people to understand that sports are a business, BIG business. And the owners make the call. Players play wherever they can, with some elite exceptions. When the choice is Hamburg for 3 million or nothing, they’ll have players. Same with new owners.

    Jerry Jones is never leaving Dallas but he’s voting for growing league revenue and expanding the audience all day long.

  38. The good news about an NFL Euro division is we could literally have football on Sunday from the time you get up until the time you go to bed on Sunday, and I am all for that.

  39. Why not? It’s going to happen in the not too distant future. What are you Americans so afraid of??

  40. alfredogarciashead says:
    October 8, 2022 at 12:20 pm
    All about the dollars. Quality will suffer but the owners don’t care.
    100% … 12 games, 14,16,17,soon to be 18, Pay per view, insane ticket prices (even for pre season), I’ll always side with the players squeezing the owners to get their $$$$.

  41. Taxes are not necessarily a deal-breaker. By the time you combine Federal and State income tax in the US there are states that have higher combined income tax rates than Europe, which is federal only. Overall taxes are somewhat higher but Europe is not completely off the rails the way people are sometimes led to believe.

  42. The fan bases will be so miniscule after a year because soccer dominates over there

  43. Please make the Houston Texans one of the four (4) European teams.
    Fans in Houston would like to follow a team with a chance of winning.

  44. Europe couldn’t support a minor league, and now Rog is claiming they can support the majors? Where is the logic there?

  45. If there are teams in Europe, it makes sense to do an entire division. It would also make sense to add in more than one bye week to stretch out the season and facilitate travel.

    Taxes would be an issue (just like playing in California) along with currency conversion, travel logistics, and family relocation.

    I’m not a huge fan of the idea, especially when there are locations like Toronto and Mexico City make more logistical sense. But if (when) they do it, try to do it right!

  46. You people act like Europe is some type of third world area. We’re talking about cities such as London, Paris, Berlin, etc. Those places are very cosmopolitan and extremely attractive to young people.

  47. The NFL couldn’t just add a division to one conference. Here’s one idea, create two 18 teams conferences, each with three divisions—one of the six being international. So each division has 6 teams. The league could use a reshuffling. Certain divisions are non-competitive and some make no sense (Dallas is in the East?). There currently are multiple NFL teams that can’t fill seats if the team isn’t elite—that’s unacceptable and teams should move on to sustainable cities. In my opinion, no city should have multiple teams. Move Jags and Jets to EU in division with Patriots, Bills, NYG, and Philly. Those flights are under 7 hours, similar to domestic. Move Chargers to Mexico City.

  48. Move the Pats over to Europe.

    They have no QB, no future, and most importantly the word England is already in their name so the re-branding costs would be way lower for Rog and his crew. And we know $ is always king in the NFL.

  49. The NFL isn’t a sport, it’s a cash extracting entertainment business.
    You can bet where there is cash to be extracted, the NFL is sending probes out.
    Someday teams will be in Mumbai and Moscow if that means an extra dollar can be made.
    If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand the reason for literally everything.

  50. I can just imagine draft day and the look of disappointment on the faces of the players when they are drafted by these euro teams. And who could blame them?

  51. Has anybody noticed the number of great QBs coming out lately. From 2017 to 2021, roughly 8-9 great QBs. When previously we had the same 5 elite QBs for 15 years.


    I don’t think its talent level, I just think its waaaay easier to throw the ball in todays NFL because of all the rule changes.
    Defenses are completely handicapped as everything is slanted to benefit the offenses.

  52. The real question I’d if you add 4 teams are they nfc or afc if you add another division you have to add 2 or do a realignment…

  53. I hope this doesn’t happen, but……. there are some good team names available if it does.

  54. I can imagine interest in München, Hamburg, Frankfurt, London and/or Barcelona…But it will be Very Interesting when a kid from Ohio State is drafted by say, the Jets, then traded to Barcelona, only to wind up in Frankfurt, without a clue as to how to communicate in either language.

  55. Irrelevant joke teams like the last place patriots should be relegated to Europe.

  56. I’m surprised to see so much hate for this idea. This is why goodell earns $40M and we don’t. I imagine you are the same bunch of fans who are in denial and think josh allen is a bust.

  57. Nobody cares what one average Joe like me says and I know lots of people say this but if the NFL really does this I’m just done. Can’t stomach how much Goodell and the greedy owners have already changed the league now. This will make me 100% done as a fan. No one cares of course but it’s just too much to have international teams.

  58. Generally, European cities are far nicer places to live than US cities. I get that a lot of college players will never have travelled to europe but eventually it would become common knowledge that cities you can actually walk in, are filled with character and history and do not have US style tent shanties of discarded people, is far better than lliving in places such as Baltimore or Cleveland.
    London, Manchester and Liverpool alone could host four NFL teams between them and as the sport develops europe, with many more people than the US, will start developing their own ‘football’ players.

  59. How do you add another division, do you put them in the NFC or the AFC? Either way one conference is going to be lopsided

  60. I’m in Scotland and have my first live nfl game lined up for the end of the month and very much looking forward to it. But this sounds crazy – it’s AMERICAN football. I think it’s great that the league plays games here every year because we get a chance to see it live, but I think the reality is that it’s still a limited interest sport over here. I’m not sure there’s the long term audience for it – could be wrong but right now it’s the novelty of seeing the Giants of New York or gawd forbid my Broncos playing that draws the crowds but regular games might be pushing it. I mean NFL Europe didn’t work for a reason.

  61. Look…I like Europe. I go there a lot for work AND play.

    But come on, man…this is textbook dilution of the product (even more than it’s already diluted).

    Stop with the expansionism, already. Stop with the “bigger is better” approach to everything. The “innovation for its own sake” model doesn’t work when the “innovation” in question is unpopular, and the business in question is dependent in large part upon the popularity of its product.

    Take care of the league as it currently exists (take care of its *problems* for cryin’ out loud). The rest will fall into place.

  62. A few points: Those who say it can’t work aren’t listening to the fans in this very thread from the UK who say it will. The previous experiment in Europe was a minor league, not the actual quality of NFL teams. European soccer, particularly British soccer, is all over my cable channels, why is the opposite absolutely impossible? Those saying that players who speak English can’t play in Germany or Spain haven’t watched the MLB, which very functionally has three non-English languages going on in the clubhouses. Plus, if you’ve been to Europe in the last decade or so, English is very common now on the continent and is the major common language used across the EU, especially in the cities.

  63. Does Goodell realize that unions are a lot stronger in Europe as are antitrust laws? Goodell better make sure he understands the legal implications as well as the financial benefits.

  64. Are they even taking into account the additional carbon footprint this is going to reek havoc on across the globe? Does the NFL even have a heart

  65. This would have failed miserably in ’20 and ’21 when all those teams and players were grounded.

    A hole in everyone’s schedule and all players at the whims of other countries’ laws. Roger sure has a short memory.

  66. The International League of American Football (ILAF)

    ILAF or “I Laugh” because of the lack of quality players and play on the field.

  67. As a Brit who has been a fan of the NFL for 40 years. I can’t believe Goodell is doing anything but dangling a carrot to try and keep the interest up in the 4 games played here each year.

    The reality is that the attendance for those games is pulled in from all over Europe and beyond not just the UK.

    In the UK access to the NFL is completely hidden behind paywalls on TV and subsequently has miniscule viewing figures.

    As for home grown players all we have had in those 40 years I have been watching, are a couple of kickers and less than a handful of other position players that have had very short NFL careers.

    Yes, the Premiership is probably the biggest worldwide supported sports league at the moment, but that leaves very little for anyone else in the UK.

    In fact, Rugby Union our no.2 supported sport has just this week had one of its top tier clubs go bust and could soon be followed by another, with rumours of more clubs being in
    trouble as well. Cricket is in an even worse state financially.

    So, one team in Europe with 8/9 home games a season might be doable (I personally doubt it) but 4 teams with 30+ games a season just seems like a fantasy to me.

  68. Cause there’s money in Europe that’s yet to be spent on the NFL and Roger is losing sleep over that.

  69. Its so stupid. Why not create NFL europe, and then have the superbowl played between the top team from america and the one from europe. The amswer is because american football isnt popular in the uk no matter how much the nfl pushes it.

  70. I love football, live in Germany and still think it‘s a bad idea. The international games are great for fans in Europe and a real highlight for all real fans of the sport, but having an own division would probably destroy it for casual fans and real fans as most people over here have their favourite team that they support. Moving teams to Europe or creating new teams by expansion would rather have the opposite effect than create more interest.
    The NFL would probably create more interest and earn a lot more money with its current league and teams if they just had one early game each Sunday (10 am Eastern time), so fans in Europe could watch three games each Sunday instead of two as the Sunday night game is too late to watch for people who work.
    Generally, I would say it‘s not broke, so don‘t fix it.

  71. The airlines are reintroducing supersonic flights in the next few years so it will be possible for a west coast team to be in Europe in 3 hours.They’re ordering the airplanes already. It makes it almost inevitable. Unfortunately.

  72. Imagine 4 teams with 4 QBs:
    How would you like your team to have one of these as your starting QB

    – Sam Darnold
    – Drew Lock
    – Jordan Love
    – Tyrod Taylor
    – Gardner Minishew

    No thanks. There are already plenty of bad QBs (Baker Mayfield, Justin Fields). Having even more makes a third of the games terrible.

    Matt Ryan has declined, as has Russel Wilson, maybe even Aaron Rodgers. I am not enjoying watching a lot of the games this year.

  73. How many players will want to suit up and live in Europe where socialism is nearly an accepted norm? With OTA’s in the Spring and training camp beginning in mid-July players would have to nearly live in Europe year-round. Then there is taxes, work visas & family issues to deal with. If I’m a player no thank you.

  74. It’s times like these that I wish the USFL would acquire some LIV funding and give the NFL a run. Just to kind of reset things a bit. Make Roger actually earn his money vs. competition.

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