Hopefully, this will be the last time the NFL expands.
Despite rumors of expansion into foreign markets (via Bloomberg) and interest in possibly a 34-team league, with two teams in Los Angeles (from Costas Tonight: Live from the Super Bowl, h/t USA Today), it's a good bet that that's not going to happen for a while.
Besides, if it does, the results could spell trouble for the balanced league.
This slideshow gives five good reasons as to why there should only be 32 teams in the league.
For whatever reason, the NFL feels that international expansion is a possibility, with London being a possible site for maybe a 33rd franchise.
What the NFL doesn't realize is that putting a team in London is akin to putting a dictator in a country already ruled by a democracy, it won't work.
First of all, Europe is not a good market because of association football and its vice-like grip on European sports fans. With teams like Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea getting their season started at around the same time the NFL is getting into full swing, who wins in this situation?
In addition, we've already seen American football fail in Europe. Remember NFL Europa?
What was intended to be a minor league football circuit ended up shutting down after 15 seasons. By the final season, the only places where it really caught on was Germany and the Netherlands. With only six teams, the league ceased operations in 2007.
If the NFL puts a team in London, it will be a colossal failure. Not only will the franchise hemorrhage money, but it will never be able to compete with what is already established.
With 32 teams, there is a sense of balance. Sixteen teams play in each conference, split into eight divisions of four.
The schedule works out that each team plays their division rivals twice, one series of interconference games, a series of intraconference games and two more games against opponents from the other two divisions.
In adding two more teams, the balance will be wrecked. Sure, 34 is an even number, but can you imagine splitting up 17 teams into divisions?
In addition, how will the scheduling work out? Will there be no more interconference matchups? What about intraconference games?
All in all, it's not a good idea to have 34 teams.
One thing comes to mind when I think about expanding any league, and that's dilution of the talent pool.
In this case, I am reminded of this line from the cult classic BASEketball:
Continued expansion diluted the talent pool, forcing [sports team] owners to recruit heavily from forcing prisons, mental institutions, and Texas.
All kidding aside, this is true. To have a top college star go to a team that is just starting up, instead of a team that clearly needs just that one piece is going to mess things up for a while. The bad teams will continue to be terrible, and the new teams won't compete for the next 10 or so years.
In keeping it to 32 teams, we get to see bad teams improve and good teams get better.
The general consensus is that there should be a team in Los Angeles. Whether by expansion or relocation, America's second-largest metropolis deserves a team.
But, what if Los Angeles screws up again? Who would be there to pick up the slack?
Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams, there really hasn't been any market, aside from LA, that would suit an NFL franchise. Sure, San Antonio might have a shot, but then again, it's the Alamodome they'd play in.
That being said, if Los Angeles wants an NFL franchise, they had better start building the stadium for them.
Of course, there is an alternative to expansion, and that is relocation.
Relocating a struggling franchise, like the Jacksonville Jaguars or the San Diego Chargers, or even the Minnesota Vikings, to Los Angeles would be a better alternative than adding two more teams, but it does have its share of problems.
First of all, a team has a lease to a city, meaning they are bound to stay in that city for the duration of said lease. To break it causes plenty of trouble.
Fan backlash is one of the many issues that come with relocation. As seen in the picture, fans do not take it lightly when their beloved team leaves the city.
As such, relocation may be the better solution than expansion, even if it's painful to watch.