So if London gets NFL, do we get cricket and warm beer?

There were fireworks in London two years ago when New York played Miami. Notsomuch here.

There were fireworks in London in 2007 when New York played Miami. Notsomuch in the U.S.

Last season, the lords of baseball made the bizarre and implausible decision to open the regular season in Tokyo, because I guess Cincinnati and Boston and St. Louis were all booked, and nothing screams tradition more than baseball, ramen and Camry.

We’ve also seen the NHL begin to play games overseas. This hockey season started in Prague and Stockholm. But half the players are from Prague and Stockholm, anyway, and not enough people in the U.S. care about hockey, so it wasn’t surprising to see Gary Bettman lunge for the koruny and kronor.

But the NFL?

This is the most powerful, profitable and successful league in sports. By any measurement. Even with the current economic slide, estimates put the NFL’s annual revenues in excess of $7.5 billion. Attendance for most games is at or near capacity. Multi-year television contracts total $20.4 billion.

Nineteen of 32 franchises are valued at over $1 billion, according to Forbes. The Value City of the 32 teams: the Minnesota Vikings, still full retail at $839 million.

But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reaffirmed this week that he wants to add more regular season games in England to the schedule. The matter will be discussed at league meetings next week, along with an expanded schedule.

Sean Payton won't go back, but I'm sure he wouldn't have a problem loaning London the Saints' cheerleaders.

Saints coach Sean Payton won't go back to London. But he could be open to loaning the cheerleaders.

If you’re going to become a sellout, England is a logical venue. The league still feels guilty about imposing NFL Europe on the country several years ago. Besides, Neptune hasn’t come up with a significant site fee, yet.

This isn’t about the product (for consecutive years, a London game has been played on a quagmire in Wembley Stadium).

This isn’t about the players (some from San Diego last year said they couldn’t fall asleep until 4 a.m. because of the time difference and had to get up for 8 a.m. meetings.)

This isn’t about coaches or general managers, who thrive on the structure of an NFL game week during the season. And it’s certainly not about a team’s fans or that city’s economy, given the loss of a home game from the schedule.

This is greed, pure and simple. There’s nothing wrong with globalization and seeking out new revenue streams, even if in the long-term. But pursuing those things at the expense of fans, employees, local economies and the game is wrong, particularly when it’s a league that isn’t starved for finances or attention.

And, no: We don’t want cricket, warm beer or the Arsenal-Manchester United game as compensation.

London hosted regular season games the last two years. NFL senior vice president Greg Aiello said Goodell “is sensitive to [the criticism], and that’s why it’s being done on an extremely limited basis.”

He added: “It’s trying to bring the game to new fans in an intelligent and limited way.”

New Orleans coach Sean Payton used a lot of words to describe his team’s experience in London last year. “Intelligent” was not one of them. The Saints “home” game against San Diego was sandwiched between three road games and a bye. The team went six weeks between games in New Orleans.

Payton criticized the travel, the playing conditions and added, “It’s hard for me to say it’s a great experience and a great thing for your club. … It isn’t for [New Orleans]. It isn’t for the local economy. It’s not for anyone.”

The Saints won the game. Imagine if they had lost.

There was a report in London last week that the Super Bowl could be played there soon. Aiello denied that, saying the officials sought information from the league on what it would take, but that such a move isn’t on the radar.

Is he closing the door to the Super Bowl ever being moved overseas?

“Well, you never say, ‘’Never, ever,’” he said.

At $7.5 billion per year, maybe you should.

90 comments Add your comment

Hillbilly Deluxe

May 13th, 2009
3:27 pm

It’s all about money. Is anybody really surprised by that?

Delino Deshields

May 13th, 2009
3:29 pm

Anybody heard of Edgar Osuna? Man the Braves are loaded with Minor League arms-


May 13th, 2009
3:40 pm

Actually, I will take the Arsenal-ManU game over an NFL game, if only for the lack of commercial interruption. Taking in an NFL game live is agony for all the official timeouts on the field–if you’re watching at home, at least you can change channels to another game during the break. If the NFL would show 45 uninterrupted minutes of football, I could die a happy man.

Simply put, the NFL is too corporate and too greedy. The Super Bowl is already out of the price range of real fans, hence a championship game played in front of a tepid audience with no vested rooting interest–in fact, it’d make perfect sense to start playing the Super Bowl overseas, since the only people who can afford to attend the game have the disposable income to get to London, Berlin, Rome, etc. and back anyway.

I love the NFL, but they’ve been making it harder and harder for the average fan for years now, so nothing they do anymore surprises me.


May 13th, 2009
3:43 pm

Speak for yourself, I’ll take a live, regular season Arsenal-Manchester United game as compensation any day. Equal trade value, we give them a regular season game, they give us a regular season game! It’s not equal right now, make it more equal and maybe I’ll buy into this more.

Also, for pete’s sake put the game on national TV. The Saints-Chargers game last year was on regionally, why move the game all the way over there only to black it out in 95% of the country?

Paul H

May 13th, 2009
3:59 pm

Well said, Jeff. It’s a slap in the face to the fans and local economy. What should be a home game for one city here is instead an overseas game. A neutral site in another country. How is that not absurd? It’s all about money even though, like you said, the NFL is already rolling in it.

Season Ticket Sonny

May 13th, 2009
4:17 pm

Archie is spot on! As a frequent traveler to London the past 15 years I’ve had the opportunity to see several Chelsea games at glorious Stamford Bridge, additionally, the atmosphere in any pub during a “darby” (as the Brits call local rivalries) easily matches the intensity of any college or pro game I’ve ever been too. Warm beer? What pubs are YOU drinking at in London, Jeff?

David Northman

May 13th, 2009
4:20 pm

Admittedly, the greed factor is at play here but isn’t our whole economy based on the pursuit of self-interest as a noble enterprise? I’ll bow to your narrative at this point and suggest the NFL is doing so as well. So what?

Isn’t this all just a matter of degree?

Will I be happy if the Falcons are tagged for promo duty? No, but they can have our division foes every year and it’ll be fine with me.

Jeff Schultz

May 13th, 2009
4:24 pm

Hillbilly: Never said I was surprised. Just irritated.

Delino Deshields: Thank you for checking in with a completely innocuous comment for not other reason than to pimp your website. Do I get at least get a nickel?

Josh: Right on. I realize every time I say some of things you wrote, I feel like the old guy on a porch on the rocking chair. But, well, we’re right!

Archie: Good point. I guess the NFL doesn’t care about us seeing the NFL in London, only London seeing the NFL in London. Unless, of course, you have the NFL Network, which most of us don’t.

Paul H.: And you can imagine how they felt in New Orleans. Every Saints’ Sunday is a boost for a local economy that badly needs it.

Season Ticket: OK, room temp, not warm. Same difference. I want my beer cold! (And I want more than one.)

Jeff Schultz

May 13th, 2009
4:26 pm

David: It’s a nice thought but Falcons will come up in the rotation at some point.

Mark C.

May 13th, 2009
4:27 pm

The Arsenal-ManU game would be awesome. Way better than Saints-Chargers or Pats-Dolphins.


May 13th, 2009
4:30 pm

I’m not following the warm beer comment Schultz. Their beer makes an absolute mockery of our beer. Its not even close.

Jeff Schultz

May 13th, 2009
4:31 pm

Oh jeez. Now all of the soccer fans are coming out of the woodwork. This should take about … five minutes.

Season Ticket Sonny

May 13th, 2009
4:41 pm

Jeff…”Huh” makes a great point. Comments like yours fuel the fire for the term “Ugly American.” The European beers are world-class and the suds in a city like Prague would absolutely level you!


May 13th, 2009
4:44 pm

lol @ yanks thinking all beer in England is “warm”. Put it in a fridge, or if its cold outside drink it warm. Any british beer, especially a warm Guiness >>> your “bud”.

A Manchester United vs. Arsenal match is vastly better then any NFL match that has ever been played. Last year, the Manchester United vs Arsenal match was watched by 273 million viewers worldwide. Hell, the average English Premier League match between any two given teams is watched by 79 million worldwide, not too far off from your biggest game (about 94 million for the Super Bowl). Once the average NFL game is watched by 79 million people worldwide every week, come back and talk.


May 13th, 2009
4:46 pm

PS. Cricket for us is like your baseball. Pretty boring, but its a leisurely game for gentlemen with lots of tradition and history so its still around.


May 13th, 2009
5:03 pm

I had rather watch English Soccer as well. The NFL is greedy and has limited the defense far to much with their rules protecting QBs and handcuffing DBs in pass coverage. If beer and London had not been mentioned I doubt I would be in a blog about the NFL.

CFB is moving to a NFL like game as well by changing the clock rules which really killed some great games last year.

Yes warm Guiness >> cold “Bud”

Phinizy Spalding

May 13th, 2009
5:25 pm

I think it is great they are expanding the sport abroad. They’ve got to test it out extensively, over an extended period, to find out if the players can handle it and if the fans will maintain an interest in the sport. The more global, the better. Give London a team.

Jeff Schultz

May 13th, 2009
5:31 pm

Are there any Americans on this site? They’re easy to tell, because none will say they prefer soccer to football.


May 13th, 2009
5:35 pm

Jeff, the soccer fans coming out of the woodwork may be more the result of the specific teams you mentioned. Arsenal-Man U is a game that any soccer fan would give their left kidney to see, but nobody would sacrifice any bodily organs to see Saints-Chargers. That’s the equivalent of them sending us Tottenham Hotspur-Newcastle United. We’re sending them crap games, it’s almost a backhanded compliment to the teams involved in this game because it’s enough of a compelling matchup to sell to the Brits, but it ain’t exactly a matchup that NBC is clamoring to put in their primetime TV slot, you can’t tell me that didn’t factor in to the NFL’s decision making process.


May 13th, 2009
5:36 pm

Georgia native here, ancestors served in the Civil War. I’ll take English League Soccer over the NFL and English Beer over Bud. College Football however is still king.

Mr C.

May 13th, 2009
5:40 pm

Where are all this soccer fans coming from? U can take ur Arsenal/Manchester United/Chelsea game to Europe. I could care less about soccer. There’s a reason Hockey pulls more fans than soccer here in the States. I will rather watch women volleyball than soccer. yikes

big D england

May 13th, 2009
5:40 pm

jeff, i live in england,i love the hawks,the falcons and the bulldogs but please if there is 1 thing we r good at,its beer. has for the nfl being greedy,its only the same with the soccer (as you put it)ruleing body in this country

King of Beers

May 13th, 2009
5:42 pm

I guess I’m just an old codger as well.

I have zero interest in seeing the NFL viable outside of the US – and even less in watching soccer in the US.

Bad move going after English beer, Jeff. I do love Newcastle & many Sam Smith’s as much as Bud – Guiness, not so much other than the commercials.

Paul H

May 13th, 2009
5:42 pm

The .000000001% of people who like soccer over football in this country have to use any venue they can get to promote their “sport.” Don’t worry Jeff, the football fans are still here.


May 13th, 2009
5:50 pm

Jeff, do you know if the NFL has a broadcast agreement with any of the British or European networks? The EPL and Champions League at least has one here, but are NFL games broadcast on a regular basis over there, or is this one game the only televised game of the season for them? I wonder if this one annual game, or 2 annual games like they’re now saying, is just the NFL’s attempt at building a TV market to start broadcasting over there? I don’t understand the purpose of giving them one of our mediocre games each season, and not letting them watch our good games.


May 13th, 2009
5:54 pm

I’m just as surprised as you Jeff but, clearly there are more soccer fans reading the paper than you think including myself. Personally I’d prefer to have a Spanish Liga match here but I’ll settle for ManU vs. Arsenal any day in an even swap for an NFL game in London. I just hope the game is in Atlanta or maybe even Athens as long as they play the game on a field without a gridiron (Sorry MLS).

This in no way detracts from my love of the NFL but the constant commercials do drive me nuts sometimes.


May 13th, 2009
5:55 pm

It sure interesting to see your xenophobia become the basis for another column, Jeff. Seems like you fear everything not made in America.

First it was a swipe at the World Baseball Classic. The best reason you could come up with was that Chipper Jones got injured. Like he’s ever needed any help with that.

And now it’s the NFL playing games in London. Well, Jeff, I guess this is the time to remind you that the NFL is a business enterprise. You seem to remember that fact OK when you’re talking about roster changes. Funny how you forget it when it comes to scheduling.

Any business needs to grow in order to survive. If the NFL can grow its audience in England, and thence the rest the Europe, it will attract more fans and exact higher rates for its TV packages.

It’s a fairly simple equation, Jeff, and it’s for the overall good of the league. You do realize that the teams will get their share of any additional revenue, don’t you? The only good point you make is that New Orleans, still recovering from Katrina, was a bad choice. Conceded. But those poor players will just have to suck it up. Who hasn’t undergone some hardship due to their job, Jeff?

For the NFL to continue to prosper, it needs to expand its revenues. That’s good the league and good for its teams. There’s no room for xenophobia in the formula.


May 13th, 2009
6:00 pm

Jeff, I agree with EVERYTHING you’re saying (you’re getting wiser in your advancing dementia)…

… accept for the beer thing.

Okay, here it goes. Beer in England isn’t room temp. Beer is stored in the basements of pubs at “cool” temps.

The thing is, the majority of American beers, such as (yech) Budweiser, Bud Light, or the passable Miller Lite or MGD, NEEDS to be consumed cold because of how lightweight those beers are.

Added to that list are the crappy “Mexican” beers like Corona.

But a good beer, like a brown like Newcastle, or anything Sam Adams makes, or even some of the varieties made in Athens, like Terrapin, these beers SHOULD NOT be consumed at the 36 to 40 degree temps needed to make crappy American beers taste good.

A beer like Newcastle needs to be “warmer” than normal American refrigerated temperatures. The actual flavors in the beer, the nuttiness for instance, come out more at “warmer” temps.

When you’re talking about Guiness, it needs to be served “cool.” Not cold. And even served “cool,” it still tastes better the “warmer” it gets.

Next time you’re in Athens, have a Guiness pulled at Gencos, who actually do it right.

Take a few sips to taste it. Then wait five minutes, give or take a minute, and try it again.

You’ll find that it tastes much less bitter the “warmer” it gets.

Because beers and ales like Newcastle, or an IPA, or Guinness are REAL beers. Not some crappy bottle of pi$$ water like Bud Light.

Reid Adair

May 13th, 2009
6:09 pm

Paul H got it right, Jeff. The soccer minority will take any chance they get to sing their praises.

I’m not sure which is worse at this point, though, the soccer fanatics or the self-proclaimed brew masters posting.

Bottom line? You are 100 percent correct. There is no reason to take the NFL to Europe, especially regular-season games. That does nothing but punish the hard-working American fans who buy season tickets to support their favorite teams. The NFL will never expand to Europe, so what is the point?

And you are also correct. If London were to say, “Hey, let’s trade.” There is nothing that would equal an NFL regular-season game. World Cup soccer games don’t even sell out in the United States, for goodness sake – and that’s with the Americans playing.


May 13th, 2009
6:35 pm

Reid, if you like pi$$ water like Bug Light, that’s a personal failing in your life. Don’t take it out on me.

Try and little strange (brew). You might surprise yourself.

randy brock

May 13th, 2009
7:01 pm

Are we going to lose everything overseas. Luv ya Schultzie


May 13th, 2009
7:34 pm

So what if it is London? Just take it. Football is an exciting sport and let it go overseas.

So what if Cricket is played in the US. Just be open about sports. Don’t ever give this excuse that Cricket is played for 5 days and land up in Augusta to watch Golf for four days. Btw, Cricket is played over 3 hours too.


May 13th, 2009
7:46 pm

Wow, Cricket is played for over 3 hours? Get me to a game!


May 13th, 2009
8:40 pm

All the comparisons with soccer are silly.

Except for one.

I’ll bet you a Five Guys cheeseburger that the NFL has paid plenty of attention to the business structure of England’s Premier League.

I’ll bet you some Sam & Dave’s BBQ that the NFL has been been doing its homework on how the Premier League has become soccer’s most powerful worldwide brand, with TV revenues to match.

Once again, the NFL is a business. And a business can’t afford to sit still. The NFL, like it or not, is driven by TV revenues, not gate revenues. Gate revenues are more or less fixed. TV revenues are not. There’s a vast, unexploited global market out there. If the NFL can tap into it, all the clubs will benefit.

Even your local team. Losing a fixture at home is a small price to pay if it ultimately translates into tens of millions of dollars of incremental revenue.

It’s so obvious even a xenophobe should be able to see it.

PTC Jacket

May 13th, 2009
8:42 pm

Wow, speak for yourself. A lot of people would love to have an Arsenal-Manchester United game in America. That would be a quick sell-out.


May 13th, 2009
8:54 pm

Why do u think Jeff. Last I checked, isnt London a predominantly Caucasian land. Its no secret thats what Goddell is about. Get real, he doesnt give a damn about the players.


May 13th, 2009
9:10 pm

Can we send Tech-Maryland overseas and get that Arsenal-Man U game? I’d accept it for an NFL game as well, although maybe not the Falcons. Maybe Arsenal-Man U can take the place of the Lions on Thanksgiving until they don’t royally suck.


May 13th, 2009
9:30 pm

Billionaires are greedy? Now there’s a newsflash, somebody better call CNN! :P I do agree with you, Jeff, that these regular season exhibition games are, in general, a disservice to all parties involved.

Besides, the folks in London may be curious about the sport but they will never care 1/1,000,000,000 about the pigskin version compared to the version that most folks in the UK consider to be true football – from which they very much get their kicks.


May 13th, 2009
10:31 pm

Get real people, especially those who live and die with their favorite team. If we’ve learned nothing else during our trouble times, sports (like other business) is about making money. Looking back, what if professional basketball had not continued their selling of the sport world wide. Look where a large percentage of their players now come from. Baseball is doing the same now, and the fruits are beginning to bare. Football has to sell the sport worldwide to be successful in the future, after all it is not an institution, it’s a business.

Ted Striker

May 13th, 2009
10:41 pm

You beer drinkers might as well be sipping on milk. At my house, the beverage of choice is firewater, usually nothing less than 100 proof. Three or four drinks later you realize it doesn’t matter whether you’re watching the NFL or Home Shopping Network, it’s pretty freaking entertaining.

Boo Boo

May 13th, 2009
11:34 pm

Seems like not too long ago the “Montreal” Expos played most of their “home” games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Goodell is only checking out London as a possible “home” city for the Detroit Lions. If they keep losing I doubt Tokyo will take them.


May 14th, 2009
12:13 am

It seems to me the NFL is trying anything they can think of to generate more income while not caring they are hurting the image of the league and relationship with their ‘core’ fans. They think they are untouchable as a league and that they will always be America’s #1 sport. That’s what the MLB used to think too. The NFL better learn they are not the only form of entertainment available. I love football, but have no problem getting it from other sources than the NFL if they want to take this greedy sellout path they are on too far.

Derrick(Falcons Fan in North Carolina)

May 14th, 2009
12:42 am

I would watch Man Utd. vs. Arsenal especially where the Red Devils can clinch the title after beating Wigan Athletic.As to the topic of the Super Bowl going overseas.I don’t think Goodell is that stupid.

And really do you think that London would give up something in equal value such as…I don’t know…The FA Cup Final(An open challenge tournament involving all 92 English League teams,Football Conference and amateur reams.)

No,they’ll never give the jewel of their sporting crown like we would give up the Super Bowl.

Go Falcons!

Najeh Davenpoop

May 14th, 2009
1:02 am

Just one of the absolutely horrendous ideas spawned by Roger Goodell during his term as commissioner.

In five years he will be recognized as the worst commissioner in American pro sports. That includes the hockey guy nobody seems to like.

Honey Ryder

May 14th, 2009
1:02 am

I remember you, Ted Striker. “Firewater” is the only thing that makes you tolerable.


May 14th, 2009
1:18 am

Why not just play exhibition games in London. Do they think less people would show up?
Imagine if you lived in London and this was your one chance to see a live NFL game. Are you not going to go because the game doesn’t count?



May 14th, 2009
1:46 am

I know what we like depends on where we live in a lot of cases. What we like is just an accident of birth among most other things in life. As much as soccer (footy) is a great sport it is incredible boring outside of the goals/near goals the rest of it is as exciting as watching paint dry and if you walked away from the game for 20 minutes and there was no goals…you wouldn’t miss a whole lot!. Of course many outside North America don’t understand the football over here and that makes perfect sense. The difference i see in Football over here compared to any other sport and i’ve watched them all is simple. The amount of potential things that can happen on one given play blows all other sports away. The QB has the option to throw, run or hand it off. If he passes it there is a chance it can be intercepted and turned over, it can be an incredible catch, it can be a miracle catch after somebody just got clocked with an amazing hit, there can be a touchdown, or even a turnover on a fumble. The QB can get sacked and loose ground. The running back can take the ball and make an amazing run, or be pummeld as well as loose the ball and turn it over. That it just some of the things that can happen. In soccer, well somebody can kick the ball to someone else…sure there is change of directions and there is constant movement basically and the way they move their feet is amazing but…inbetween the goals there is simply not enough potential for excitement on any given play that is possible in American Football. North American football basically came from rugby (which is also more interesting than soccer) and it improved on Rugby to make it a little bit less sloppy. I always like the soccer fans that think its all size and they aren’t skilled or athletes compared to soccer players…you got to be kidding!. A lot of these guys are world class NCAA athletes and amongst the fastest and athletic people in the world and plenty were track stars and skilled at other sports.

Kevin Jones

May 14th, 2009
2:53 am

Replace Arsenal with Liverpool and we can send them a NFL game.I think that is fair compensation.Believe or not I like the NFL and EPL equally!Atlanta Falcons-Michael Vick before the dogfighting!
Arsenal-Thierry Henry before he got sent to REAL MADRID!


May 14th, 2009
3:27 am

Jeff, the Saints fans, the Chargers fans, the Giants fans, and the Fins fans that came over all seemed like they were having a great time. I don’t understand why people are so concerned about having a game outside of the US, the nfl is trying to grow its global brand. Granted, I think that the game should feature northeast based teams to minimalize the travel effect. That flight wouldn’t be much different than what a west coast team would have to do to play a NE team.

Ted Striker

May 14th, 2009
3:55 am

HoneyRyder — I remember you too. Your feathered boa, the silk, the lace, my handcuffs, the mailbox in my driveway. If that wasn’t enough, there’s always the video I sometimes watch when your sister comes over. Don’t worry that she’s younger and slightly hotter than you. I’d say I like you better — if I had to choose. Love, Ted