The NFL has been playing at least one regular season game overseas in London, England since 2007. Now, the question must be asked, will London finally get their own franchise?
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft enjoyed watching his team play at Wembley Stadium in 2009 when they crushed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7 in front of a crowd of 84,254, still the largest crowd for an NFL game in Europe. This season he will get to revisit that fond memory by watching the Patriots take on the St. Louis Rams on October 28, 2012 at Wembley.
Kraft is currently on a tour in London to help promote the game. While visiting with different people he stated that he would like to see a team in London because it would be good for the league.
“I personally think we should have a franchise in London, and that is something I am going to push for,” Kraft said. “I think I said that the last time we were over here in 2009 and before this next decade is out, I hope we have a team here. I think that would be right for the NFL, and this fan base has proven they deserve it.”
There is no question they take their football seriously in London as every game at Wembley has cleared the 80,000 attendance mark with the exception of one, which ironically was the game that was played last season.
Kraft did go on to say that just because he believes there should be a team in London does not mean he has any plans of picking up his team and moving it overseas. The Patriots will always stay in New England and he will have it no other way. The Rams have already confirmed that one of their eight home games from 2012 to 2014 will be played in London. Kraft likes the idea of this and said he would not mind if New England worked out a similar deal with the NFL.
“We lobbied hard to come back after having such a good experience in 2009. We would love to be the permanent visiting team. It was good for team bonding, and everyone really enjoyed our last trip to London,” Kraft said.
I could personally see the NFL eventually expanding the league and setting up franchises in foreign countries. It would be interesting to have international teams as the NBA, MLB, and NHL have. I think a team in London is a great start but I would also not mind seeing a team in Mexico City and possibly even Canada, even though they already have the Canadian Football League. The first international NFL game ever played was on October 5, 2005 in Mexico City, which had an incredible attendance of 103,467 people.