Why Andrew Whitworth's London Comments Are Misguided

Matt GrayContributor IJune 8, 2013

Andrew Whitworth has no intention of playing football in London.

That's exactly what the Pro Bowl tackle told Cincinnati.com.

"I would hope that I was financially able to quit...That's what I would hope, because if I was, my papers would be the first one in."

It's a view he thinks many players would agree with.

"I don't see that a lot of guys would want to do that," he said. "I don't see any players that would enjoy that. Sure, you may find a handful of guys that say, 'Oh hey, that'd be cool,' but the rest of them wouldn't."

He also has no interest in playing an International Series game at Wembley.

"I would hate it, but it is what it is," he said. "But one time, it's not fun, but you got to do what you got to do. But I wouldn't enjoy that, either."

The subject of having NFL games played in the UK often provokes fierce debate. Whitworth clearly has his mind made up, and it's disappointing to hear.

He's in a position of influence as the Bengals' player representative, which makes these comments all the more deflating. I'm sure many young players in the league right now (a lot of whom have never traveled) would love the opportunity to play in London.

It seems that Whitworth is putting his personal comfort ahead of what's good for the sport. You would think that someone as knowledgeable as he is would be less shortsighted.

Why wouldn't you want to grow the game of football? Why wouldn't you want more people tuning in and taking part internationally? 

To say that he would "hate" to play just one game in London is astoundingly insular. Not only that, it's a huge middle finger to those European fans who pour money into NFL pockets over the course of those games.

The NFL's popularity is growing steadily in the UK. It's only a matter of time before we see a franchise based in London. 


Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports puts it best.

Don't sweat the details, like travel. Have you even looked at the 49ers' brutal travel schedule that's ahead in 2013, or glanced back at the last year's? You think a series of five-hour flights during a six-month schedule is enough of a deterrent to derail all this economic goodness? Then you haven't been paying attention. Don't give me long flights, or fatigue, or players not wanting to play abroad. The league wants to add regular-season games, has made Thursday nights a staple of the schedule and plenty of athletes in other sports go abroad -- it's beyond common in basketball, hockey and soccer, and even baseball.

There's now a definite feeling of inevitability on the subject. As La Canfora goes on to say, there will be an NFL team in London sooner or later. Whether it can consistently attract a big enough fanbase, however, is a conversation for another time.

I can understand a certain hesitance about playing for a London franchise and I can't blame Whitworth for saying he would walk.

However, London team or not, there are an increasing number of NFL fans there. For those who shell out for NFL Game Pass, go to the International Series, buy the t-shirts, jerseys etc, it's quite insulting to hear that Whitworth would "hate" the prospect of a one-game trip to London.