Is the NFL’s ceiling higher in Germany than in England?

Seattle Seahawks v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The NFL has been staging regular-season games in London since 2007, in every season except 2020. Last year, the NFL began playing in Germany.

In the second year of the German experiment, Frankfurt scored perhaps the biggest international game yet — the Miami Dolphins vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

It’s a huge game. It has sizzle. It has story lines. It has big personalities. And Germany has it, and London doesn’t.

Although London got three games to German’s two, London probably would have traded two of the games it got (if not all three) to have Dolphins-Chiefs. And it’s hard not to wonder whether the NFL awarded Dolphins-Chiefs to Germany as a reward for the over-the-top fervor Germany demonstrated during last year’s Seahawks-Buccaneers game — and possibly as a recognition that the NFL has a higher ceiling in Germany than in England.

We’ve had multiple PFT Live viewers in the UK point out that, despite their own intense, personal passion for pro football, the NFL still doesn’t move the needle like it could or should in England, Ireland, etc., relative to other sports. In Germany, the arrival of the NFL has sparked much greater enthusiasm.

Or course, it helped that Germany got Tom Brady right out of the gates. Still, there’s a level of excitement that Germany has exhibited that London arguably has yet to match.

Perhaps the best way to get both countries to the maximum level of engagement will be to do what the Commissioner suggested last year — create a four-team European division with London and German representation. If, ultimately, the division has two teams in London and two in Germany, that would result in four annual games pitting an English team against a German team.

While that might be needed to get the most out of the London audience, it feels as if the German audience is already farther along the path toward becoming the kind of money-making market that the NFL envisioned once it started exporting games to Europe.

At the end of the day, football is a meritocracy, in more ways than one. The best players play. And the best (i.e., most lucrative) places to play get the better games played there.

10 responses to “Is the NFL’s ceiling higher in Germany than in England?

  1. The Germans, rather famously, have never been fanatic about anything before.

  2. NFL Europe ended up as a German league because of how big the game is in Germany. The only reason London was first is the shared language. However, selling out the 90k at Wembley and 62k x2 at Tottenham is a bit more than 96k total in Germany.

  3. I’m not a fan of the Chiefs, Dolpins, Patriots or Colts. But I’ve never been to Germany and my father was a POW there for the final three years of WWII. He was liberated from a stalag not far from Frankfurt and I’ve always wanted to go see the site where it was located. There is a memorial there. So I’m considering it.

  4. Putting high profile games overseas will hurt the NFL. The league may want to make it an international brand like soccer, but it simply doesn’t have the appeal that that sport does across the world.
    And that’s fine.
    Let the rest of the world ‘enjoy’ that type of futebol. It just provides one of the few valid reasons for believing in American exceptionalism.

  5. Anybody who thinks the NFL does not have international appeal has not been overseas to one of these games. I went to Wembley in 2017 and had a blast. It was so much fun meeting and interacting with European fans of NFL football who loved the sport so much. Not only did you see jerseys of the two teams in action, but of EVERY other NFL team. There were no fights in the stands, no cursing, there was order, there was politeness, and a great sense of sportsmanship. It was also an opportunity to get out of the country and experience an international destination. I get that this may cause some stress for people who don’t like to travel, but I for one, enjoyed my experience very much and am considering repeating it this season. Those that don’t like the international games can complain all you want that these games are happening, but guess what, embrace it, because its NOT going anywhere…it’s only going to expand. The only way it’ll stop is if tickets can’t get sold. Watch how fast these international game tickets sell out.

  6. If there’s anyone would appreciate a good blitz, it would be the Germans.

  7. humb0lt says: my father was a POW there for the final three years of WWII.

    My hats off to your father who endured true hardship that we can only imagine.

    I hope you are able to make the trip; there is nothing quite like walking in the shadows of brave heroes – most of whom were perhaps 20 years old.

  8. No, the ceiling is not higher in Germany. England games appeal more to the Miami Dolphins and they have their own Alliance Miami Dolphins UK Fan Club so their would of been an overwhelming amount of Miami Dolphins fan. So they decided to go with Germany as the Kansas City Chiefs do not have a strong base and neither do the Dolphins. Sort of neutral. But, I say **** the NFL for doing this to the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. This was supposed to be Hill’s thrashing of the Chiefs in Arrowhead. Stupid NFL.

  9. The Chiefs designated foreign markets are Germany and Mexico, this is silly to me since the NFL told us which teams are getting which markets some two years ago?

    Why you trying to go the Tucker route and ask leading questions when the known facts say otherwise.

    Chiefs are a draw. They have a 1st place schedule. Most games will have a storyline.

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