The Indianapolis Colts have not yet been summoned to Wembley as part of the NFL‘s London schedule, but I’d like to see that change. This year there will be three Wembley games, and rumor has it that in 2015 they will expand to four (probably about one game a month). Whether the makeup of the London fanbase is converted Europeans or Americans abroad, the Colts could make for an attractive ticket, regardless of opponent.
Look at the previous London games:
2007: Giants vs. Dolphins
2008: Chargers vs. Saints
2009: Patriots vs. Buccaneers
2010: Broncos vs. 49ers
2011: Bears vs. Buccaneers
2012: Patriots vs. Rams
2013: Steelers vs. Vikings and 49ers vs. Jaguars
2014: Dolphins vs. Raiders, Lions vs. Falcons and Cowboys vs. Jaguars
The NFL has made an obvious point of sending some teams multiple times, building relationships between the London fanbase and key franchises, such as the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. The Jacksonville Jaguars are scheduled in London every season through at least 2016. (The Jags could even move to London without changing their name; they’d just have a car mascot instead of a cat.) There’s been solid balance between AFC and NFC teams making the trip, but there hasn’t been a lot of divisional overlap. Maybe that’s a coincidence or maybe it’s strategic, but that might be part of the reason the Colts have not yet been involved. The Jags have the corner on the London market, and no other AFC Southies need apply.
Maybe the Colts don’t want to be involved in the London games. For each of those three games in 2014, three teams (and fanbases) are giving up home games. There’s the added strain of international travel. But I’ve heard some players say that playing in Wembley and having that international experience is one of the cooler things they’ve done in their careers. And, for fans, the league is finally doing what I felt they should have done all along: playing the London game in its own time slot, at 9:30 a.m. EST (for Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons). That gives us four televised games back-to-back in one day and it puts the game in a more typical soccer time slot for the locals.
The Colts have a young, diverse roster with international ties. Andrew Luck spent quite a bit of this past offseason overseas, working camps and developing young European talent, and he will doubtlessly continue building those relationships. Europe has a lot of potential undiscovered talent, and I like the idea of that talent wanting to wear the horseshoe. It’s probably a bad idea to move a divisional matchup between the Colts and Jags to Wembley, and it seems unlikely that two teams from the same division would ever be sent to London in the same season. But with four games next season, the NFL will likely send four NFC teams and four AFC teams. As a Colts fan, I could get behind watching a road game at 9:30 a.m. I could get behind anything that felt like an event.