Top 7 NFL Teams That Should Move To England
International Series at Wembley Stadium
With the NFL never content with the amount of money it is making, the league office is constantly looking for ways to expand the game and subsequently revenue streams where ever possible. Although it a team hasn’t relocated since the Tennessee Titans moved from Houston in 1997, there is more than one struggling team in the modern NFL landscape.
Before we go any further many will ask why England before Los Angeles? In my opinion it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the League may look to move more than one team at a time and readjust the individual divisions accordingly.
Although Wembley stadium has been the home of the international series since 2007, with attendance figures being solid throughout its six year tenure, the likelihood of an English based franchise seems to rise with ever visit.
Indeed this season the NFL announced that in the 2013 regular season, two games would be held in London, fuelling further speculation that the NFL will be using the next couple of years as an acid test for a possible relocation of an NFL franchise away from US shores.
Rodger Goodell openly champions the possibility but the rumors of a relocation have been added weight by the assertions of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft saying that the time was ripe to chance a franchise in England as soon as possible.
Whilst there are many naysayers on both sides of the proverbial pond about the validity of a UK franchise and of how successful it would be, the fact remains that there is more than a handful of organisations in the NFL that are handcuffed by the small apathetic markets they reside in, and like all things money reigns supreme meaning it will no doubt be the deciding factor in any scenario.
With this in mind, here is a list of the top seven current NFL franchises that I feel have a realistic shot at relocating to England in the near future.
Number 7: Cleveland Browns
The Browns are a terrible team. Their attendance other than the “Dawg Pen” is falling on a year by year basis. The Browns are on this list because in my opinion they are a franchise that could really do with a change of scenery and a fresh outlook on life.
Everything about this team other than Left Tackle screams mediocrity. They draft poorly, lose close games, conspire to lose leads, and as good at drafting or hiring a quarterback as the Chicago Bears have been (this is not a compliment).
I really feel with the new crop of players they have, that they could market a move away from Cleveland and almost start over with fresh ideals and fresh expectations. They won’t because their rivalries are to deeply rooted and they would rather meander along then really answer their failings as an organisation.
The Browns have no chance of moving anywhere; just because this is a basic fact doesn’t mean it is the right decision.
Number 6: Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders are the team synonymous doing things their own way. Under the now sadly deceased former owner Al Davis the Raiders have a history of bucking the trend in the NFL.
However on the field the team is not great, in the stands the seats are never full, the market just isn’t that big, which is fine when you have a quirky billionaire funding things, with Davis gone however the small market of Oakland could really begin to pose a real problem for this franchise.
Having never made a UK appearance (although the name and history is romanticized about furiously) the likelihood of a UK Raiders team is remote.
The Likelihood of a Los Angeles based Raiders franchise, simply makes too much sense to ignore, as a result the Raiders will be visiting rather than hosting games in London should a franchise arrive in England.
Number 5: Buffalo Bills
If there was ever a group of fans sick of hearing about the possibility of losing its team, the Buffalo Bills would take first prize. Their owner Ralph Wilson is 94 years old and no plan seems to be in place for the future safeguarding of this franchise once he is gone. It seems that relocation, unless a new stadium is built rather than the old Ralph Wilson Stadium being given a paint job, is built the franchise is a very moveable commodity.
There is the word that so many Bills fans have come to fear; Toronto. Considered a likely spot for the team, it has lead to much adversity from the fans. The Toronto Series has been seen as an omen for many years and a sign that the Bills days in Buffalo could soon be over. In recent times Hamilton has been mentioned as a saviour and possible landing spot, and then there is L.A which will figure in any relocation conversation until it receives a franchise.
The Bills are moveable, should be marketable, and have spent money to get in some marquee players (although they are playing terrible football). If the attention of an eventual new owner was to shift to moving, London will be a few years down the road and the logistics of an overseas franchise will be much clearer in theory.
Bills are an outside shot of epic protions.
Number 4: San Diego Chargers
Although the San Diego Chargers are a good candidate for relocation, and have dipped their toes into the fountain of English NFL fandom they are a much better candidate to move to Los Angeles if the opportunity is available.
The Chargers are a good candidate, since they have an annual escape clause in their lease at Qualcomm Stadium and the financial penalty would only cost around $20 million. However, leaving San Diego not only would abandon America's 17th largest market, it would also give up on the team closest to Mexico that potentially enjoys a fanbase south of the border.
As much as the name is recognizable to UK fans, the likelihood is that the very name that sells this team as an attractive franchise to move would be to bitter a pill for fans, owners, analysts and pretty much the whole of America to lose from its shores.
Number 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When you own one of the most marketable and famous teams in soccer, your name is going to come up in a conversation about relocating from Tampa Bay to London.
A decade ago the Buccaneers where the poster boys of the model NFL franchise. The Bucs triumphed in Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003, enjoyed full houses at the newly-constructed Raymond James Stadium, and annually assembled a competitive team.
Despite sum of the most affordable prices in football, Bucs games are routinely blacked out from television as they continually struggle to fill their stadium. The on field product has been poor and lacked any kind of focus accept for a drive towards mediocrity.
Malcolm Glazer did authorize significant spending in the 2012 free agency period after a miserable 4-12 record in 2011 saw the hiring of college coach Greg Schiano.I will leave it to US fans to argue whether Glazer can be trusted to keep this team in Tampa Bay, but with its struggles to field a competitive team in the NFC South, its poor attendance figures and seemingly fickle fan base, added to the fact the Buccaneers have been “growing” a UK fan base of its own through two international series games it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Glazer attempts to relocate to the UK and tie the fortunes of his two sports teams into one another.
If it were to happen, I feel it is going to take at least five more years for Glazer to lose patience with the ailing franchise and pull the trigger on a move to England.
Number 2: St. Louis Rams
In a story that sounds all to familiar, the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995, quickly they became the poster boys of the greatest show on turf, everything was new, fresh and well run. Well much the same as the Buccaneers it all went south and the franchise has been ailing ever since.
It’s hard to believe a stadium built just 15 years ago could already be antiquated. But that’s the problem facing the Edward Jones Dome and the city officials who will try to keep the Rams from leaving town. The franchise’s lease stipulates the venue must rank among the top eight NFL stadiums in quality by 2015 or the Rams are free to move elsewhere, there is an arbitration date set to settle the dispute on stadium upgrades in early January 2013.
So much goes on with this franchise it is very hard to tell exactly what its motives for the future are, but one thing is for sure, the on field product of this franchise leaves a lot to be desired. Having competed in England and plans to compete in 2013 and 2014 the prospects of the Rams becoming a UK franchise seemed viable.
But news quickly came that the Rams had pulled out of their 2013/2014 obligations in order to focus on stadium matters in St. Louis and the original commitment looks more a power play to leverage pressure on city officials than a view to a move.
All roads lead to Los Angeles at some point, yet another team with a past in the city, another franchise failing and looking for a way out of its current market, until L.A has a new resident it will be hard for the Chargers, Rams and Raiders to overlook as a first choice destination.
Number 1: Jacksonville Jaguars
For all the naysayers on an English franchise, are you guys and girls really going to cry over the loss of the Jacksonville Jaguars, in terms of risk assessment, this is about as low as it gets. Let’s face it, the NFL will follow the dollar signs, which certainly lead to anywhere other than Jacksonville.
The Jaguars currently compete in one of the smallest media markets. What compounds the torturous existence of this football team is excruciating play on the field, its ongoing arguments with “top” players and just its tired nature in general.
With struggles on the field only exceeded by difficulties selling tickets, the upper deck of EverBank Field is typically only occupied by tarps. The franchise was sold by Wayne Weaver in 2011 to Shahid Khan for the head scratching sum of $760 million and anyone who believes that the future of this franchise is in Jacksonville is insane.
Khan denies plans to move anywhere but the Jaguars have agreed to participate 4 times in the NFL's annual London game, it really doesn’t take a conspiracy theory genius to write this script.
Attempt to grow a following, get players accustomed to the idea of moving to England, attempt to improve your on the field product, and be prepared to drop your ridiculous name and this franchise becomes the most viable for a move to England in the near future.