On Nov. 1, the Kansas City Chiefs handed the Detroit Lions a pretty gruesome 45-10 loss. What is newsworthy about this story isn’t the fact that the Chiefs can still win without Jamaal Charles, but rather where the game took place: Wembley Stadium in London, England.
Since 2007, the National Football League (NFL) has made a tradition of scheduling certain regular season games in London. The number of games played overseas has expanded multiple times since the one game debut in 2007 to the point that, this year, the Chiefs and Lions game was only one of three to be played in London this season.
It appears to be not only love at first sight with the people of England and American football, but also a love that grows stronger with each passing year. When the Giants and Dolphins began this overseas tradition in 2007, the 40,000 tickets to the game sold out only 90 minutes after being available for sale.
This love, along with expansion, led to the unavoidable rumors over the last two years that there would soon be an NFL team in London. These rumors excited many in both the United States and England as it was a somewhat of a known fact at that point that an NFL team in London would have a huge fanbase and draw more than enough media attention and revenue.
If expansion were to occur, it would be assumed that another team would also soon be added to give the NFL an even 34 team roster. There were rumors of this other team being in LA or Canada or possibly somewhere else in Europe, which are destinations among the popular chatter for sports gossipers. One would assume that these teams would participate in regular NFL seasons with other NFL teams; they would just have a longer plane ride. Although, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to many if Roger Goodell and the NFL owners decided to give international teams limited home games.
There are already many fans in London with an investment in NFL football. The New England Patriots have a large following in London, and Tom Brady is often swarmed like a celebrity by both fans and the media when the Patriots travel to London. Also, those who really follow teams top to bottom might know that Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer also owns the very popular premier league soccer team, Manchester United.
Still don’t believe me? Jewell student Maddie Douglas, junior Oxbridge Music major, who is currently studying, overseas in London attended the Chiefs’ game.
“Watching thousands of people rally for a team that has played a major role in my home life was a comfort and a thrill. The stadium was alive with cheers and enthusiasm, just like American football stadiums in the United States. I didn’t expect such a massive turnout, but the crowd erupted when the Chiefs scored and people sporting every NFL team color covered the path from Wembley to the tube station. For the first time since I arrived 5 weeks ago, I felt at home.”
With NFL teams already drawing a large interest from British fans and the number of regular season games overseas expanding from one to two in 2012 and two to three in 2013, the interest in and rumors of an overseas NFL team seemed more real. However, much to the dismay and disappointment of many overseas and U.S. fans, the Associated Press said this expansion may not come about until the 2030s. The NFL international series will continue to expand as long as London fans keep loving their football; however, an NFL team probably won’t call Wembley Stadium its home anytime in the near future.
Photo courtesy of http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/article-2/Chiefs-Chairman-and-CEO-Clark-Hunt-Clarifies-London-Super-Bowl-Connection/1fa176f5-98a9-4a20-b031-20d25062cfbe