The Armchair Quarterback Take Of The Week
Roger Goodell’s Plan Of Having A Team In London Is Destined To Fail
Last Sunday the Jacksonville Jaguars played a home game in London against the San Francisco 49ers. The Jaguars would lose that game by the final score of 42-10. The game was pretty much over by the end of the first quarter. It was the first of 4 scheduled “home games” that the Jaguars will play in London between 2013-2016.
The Jaguars weren’t actually the NFL’s first choice to be the team that would travel across the Atlantic in consecutive seasons in order to try and build a fan base in England. Originally that team was suppose to be the St. Louis Rams who committed to play three consecutive years there between 2012-2014, only to back out after only playing one game.
So now the Brits get four straight years of the Jags. I’m guessing that there aren’t many in London who are running out to buy Jacksonville gear after that performance on Sunday. In fact, I’m guessing many weren’t there to watch them at all. It was likely the San Francisco 49ers who were coming off an appearance in last year’s Super Bowl that brought NFL fans in London out to the game.
Now the NFL has announced that next year the Jags opponent in their London game will be the Dallas Cowboys. See a pattern here? They are pairing the Jags with a team with a more successful history and larger popular appeal to ensure that people come to the game. This is dangerous for the NFL’s long term goal of having a team based in London. If the NFL is selling the Jags opponents as the reason to come to the game then what is the purpose of having a team go there every year for four years straight? I understand that it’s hard to sell a winless team, but the NFL is sending mixed messages.
The NFL is NOT sending mixed messages when it comes to wanting to add to their already enormous revenue stream by tapping into the European market. The NFL played one game in London’s Wembley Stadium in each year between 2007-2012. This year the NFL expanded that to two games and there are already three games scheduled for 2014. In an article at NFL.com, Roger Goodell is quoted as followed:
We don’t have a timetable for (a London franchise). We want to continue building interest, and if it continues to go well we believe a franchise could be here.
This is the idea that is doomed to failure. I understand that the NFL wants every last dollar on the planet, but this idea just doesn’t work. What team is ever going to want to pack up and move to London? The answer is none. So it would have to be a struggling franchise that’s owner would agree to move there in hopes of making more money (sweating Jags fans?). However, if the team is struggling, what makes the NFL think that London will get behind that team any more then they are likely to get behind the Jaguars next season when they come back to face the Cowboys? What the NFL is essentially creating in this scenario is a London based “Washington Generals” that European fans would buy tickets for in order to see the star players and teams that come to town to face them. Yes, the owner (and more importantly the NFL in general) would have a foothold in the European market, but this idea has one fatal problem.
What NFL player in their right mind is going to sign on to be a “Washington General” and face whatever visiting team is playing the part of the Harlem Globetrotters that week? The NFL will say that the London team will be as competitive as any team in the league, but it’s just not practical. Would you want to be on the team that has to travel back and forth to London every season? Would you even consider signing with that team if you had an offer of comparable value from a states based team? The only way for the London franchise to land a big name free agent would be to massively over pay. Teams that over pay for star players always end up with shallow rosters and losing records. This would perpetuate the “Washington Generals” outlook and continue the problem of London fans wanting to see the opposing team. If the “home” fans in London were always more excited to see the opposing team and their players than their own team things will only get worse with the morale of the London team. This makes it even harder to sign those free agents and the cycle continues.
It’s the equivalent of NFL quick sand.
The only solution would be to move a quality team with quality ownership and quality management that would continue to field a winning team that would have enough success to draw players. These type of consistently successful teams thrive in the NFL though. So what team that meats those qualifications can you see leaving their current host city? Can you see the Patriots or Broncos packing up and moving to London? Not a chance.
An expansion team is an even worse idea. That team would never get off the ground for the same reasons that I listed above that a struggling team that moved to London would fail. You might as well name them the London “Generals”.
The bad news is, with how determined the NFL and Roger Goodell are to get into London it’s probably either a franchise or a slate of 8 random games every season. While I think the 8 games would be more successful it would mean that every season 8 different teams would lose one of the home games that us fans here in the good old USA want to attend. That means every team in the NFL would lose a home game once every 4 years if the games were distributed evenly.
So ultimately, the losers in this whole situation are the fans that follow and attend games here in the U.S. We’ll lose out on one of our team’s home games so that Roger Goodell and the NFL can get their hands on more revenue.
Thanks Roger, I know you’re really hurting for money these days. I mean you and the other owners probably only get together and roll around in cash once a month instead of every day after the settlement they gave the former NFL players. But don’t worry, you can just fine Ndamukong Suh and any other player that actually hits someone to make some of that money back until your European revenue stream kicks in.
Now on to the Armchair Quarterback’s Week 9 Predictions…….