The NFL, the upper echelon of American sports, a new era of gladiators fighting tooth and nail as we applaud for more. I, as most Americans, love football. As we hope to get Sunday off just to shred our shackles of boring 9 to 5 jobs and ordain our bodies with our anointed team’s jerseys. So I ask this, Does it seem like we are just shoving our version of football down everyone else’s throat because we cannot stand soccer to save our lives, maybe one day, when we get better at it. Till then let’s break down a possible expansion for the NFL. I’m a little pessimistic, so let’s start with the cons.
Let’s start with the players, as it stands now on average per season NFL players travel 20,000-25,000 miles. That’s only in the U.S., and counting the occasional London games. That is weeks of just traveling, coupled with practices and the occasional game. these athletes spend more time staring out of a bus window than physically preparing or playing the game. Another factor that I’d like to discuss is jet lag, arriving a week before the game is not enough time to get acclimated to a timezone, a five-hour difference may not seem like much but jet lag has been known to cause fatigue, insomnia, confusion, nausea, coordination problems and even memory loss. Aside from the toll it takes physically, it can also be mentally draining to the players, whether being worlds away from their family or having to adapt to a different part of the world leaving what they know in the blink of an eye, through drafts, trades, release, or injury.
I will be honest at first glance current owners will see an increase in their pockets, but it will quickly dissolve into nothingness. Don’t believe me? Let me think of an example, Ah yes, the EFL. it lasted longer the Vince McMahon’s XFL, but shorter than Brett Farve’s career. Unfamiliar with the EFL, how about the original name WLAF, with teams in Montreal, Frankfurt, London, Barcelona?This started as a kind of developmental league to help groom prospects to the NFL.
Sounds great, right?, here’s the problem, the NFL with full rosters and their own practice squads , control all of the major talent, leaving the WLAF with slim pickings of scrap players not even talented enough for the Canadian football league(it’s a real thing, look it up). With that means no stars, no stars means no merchandise no merchandise translates to no franchise. After a C+ inaugural year in 1991, the NFL suspended the WLAF for two years, owners didn’t believe the risk was worth the reward.The fox network stopped the bleeding and bailed them out because they believed if they at least televised those games in America people would watch, they did not. The EFL was born from this debacle as more NFL rejects joined the ranks,adding such teams as Barcelona’s Dragons, and the ever so popular Berlin’s Blitzkrieg I mean “Thunder”, great name. The average attendance was 18,00 people, you can see a bigger audience at a Harlem globetrotter game. In 2007 the slowly dying EFL was put to sleep as Roger Goodell thanked the few fans for their little support.
OK, OK I know what your thinking, I’m biased to one side of the argument and I am, but I’ll be fair and explain some pros. First and foremost some of the previous games in the U.K. have sold out or nearly did so, and these are not small stadiums as Wembley in London has a 60,000 person capacity. There’s money in the new world, it just needs to be conquered first. The next pro would be reaching a new fan base, which in turn creates a new culture in the NFL something it needs to lighten up this injury and domestic abuse ridden terrain of the league. Also the London “tax Collectors” would be a nice match up against the New England Patriots. Aside from filling the owners pockets with gold, this expansion would create a great opportunity for job and economic growth to whatever city a team attached to. This sport is built on youth and young talent from all over the world would boost the competitive nature of the sport. Look at the “Nigerian Nightmare”, Emmanuel Okoye, he was one of the best running backs to ever play the position and he is from Enugu, Nigeria. Just take a second and think about all of the talent left on the table because kids around the world do not grow up rooting, or watching a sport from worlds away.Perhaps putting it in reach will grow talent from a broader spectrum.
In short, the biggest con against an NFL expansion is the failures of the past, but perhaps just maybe the owners and networks have learned from the mistakes. Then again this is the NFL so it’s more than likely to be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.