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.