NFL: 10 Reasons London Franchise Won't Happen
The NFL has returned this week along with talk of a London franchise, but there are plenty of reasons why Roger Goodell and the NFL should be looking elsewhere. The NFL won't work in London, and it's important NFL fans and administrators know the reasons why.
NFL teams travel to the UK for the International Series each year, and the game appears very popular. But in reality the series simply gives the small number of fans from all over Europe the chance to see a game live.
They already support established teams (if they are interested) and are going for the one-off spectacle. We take a look at the reasons why a London franchise for the NFL would not work, and why Goodell should be looking outside of the UK.
10. Too Many Players
Each NFL team can have a 53-man roster. Not a ridiculous amount really, but 47 can play in each game.
That is stupid.
How is it possible for a fan to know what is going on when almost 100 players can take the field in a single game? Fans struggle to name their own roster, never mind the 31 other teams.
Look at rugby union as an example of how to play a real sport. The sport is similar to the NFL, where the game requires many different types of athletes.
Fans in the UK want to know everything about their team, whatever the sport. That just isn't possible with 47 players playing each week.
9. The Franchise System
One thing the British will never understand is the franchise system. A team cannot simply move because they feel like making more money. The idea is preposterous.
Wimbledon, an EPL team, famously moved ten miles or so away from their home, before eventually relocating completely. In becoming MK Dons and moving 70 miles away, they angered a community.
A sports team is not a franchise or a business, it is part of a community in the UK. The idea of a team moving is not even considered because fan-power would not allow it to happen.
The fact that a London franchise would be exactly that would turn fans off the idea.
8. It Never Gets Going
NFL games last a long time (we’ll get to that, too). Yet the game is never actually going for more than a few seconds.
People want to go and watch a game where athletes push themselves to the limit. But in the NFL all they ever do is move around for a few seconds, then have a rest.
Sometimes you don’t even get to see the ball.
Free-flowing, fast-paced and end-to-end are all phrases used to describe a good game in the UK. Be it soccer, rugby or even hockey. Those are things the NFL will never be.
It’s very hard to get excited about a game that stops every six seconds.
7. It Lasts Too Long
The game clock is 60 minutes. Add in halftime, and you’re heading home two hours after kick-off right?
The game will go on for three hours, more if nobody wins. Brits just don’t get it. They see five minutes on the clock at the end of a close game and stay tuned thinking it won’t last long.
Twenty minutes later they've changed channels and the game is still going.
If you want a London franchise, make the game faster.
The play-offs are elimination games, therefore overtime is fine. Regular season games are not, therefore they don’t need overtime.
Sport is a battle between two sides. Usually one side will be better than the other. It is their responsibility to win the game, in regular time.
If a team can’t beat someone in regular time, then on what planet do they deserve more time? That’s right, planet NFL.
Ending a game as a tie is sometimes an achievement. A bad team hanging on for a dramatic tie against a team of superstars is something special.
In a country where a cricket game can last five days and still be a draw, overtime is a deal-breaker.
Let’s face it, nobody likes commercials, and the NFL is just one giant commercial. Everything has a sponsor or is brought to you by product X.
Almost every break in play means a commercial, and when they don’t cut away, the commentators talk about upcoming programming.
People in the UK don’t like commercials. The BBC is so popular because it has zero commercials. The fans want to be entertained, not talked to by salesmen.
And no, Super Bowl commercials do not count as entertainment.
4. No Promotion or Relegation
The NFL is not exciting for half of the teams involved. Nothing can happen to them. If I finish bottom of the league I get rewarded by being able to pick whichever upcoming player I want for next season.
Part of the excitement of sport is that there are always consequences. If you win, then there will be reward, if you lose there will be punishment.
Promotion and relegation makes the season interesting for longer, and for more teams.
With five games remaining, you could have ten teams with nothing to play for. That is a third of the teams not interested in a third of their matches.
For several years one of those teams will be the London franchise, and British fans do not want to watch meaningless games.
NFL is a sport for tough guys, where full contact is encouraged. So long as you are wearing pads to protect your whole body.
Wearing pads has taken a huge amount of skill out the NFL, especially tackling. It might look spectacular every now and then, but players just bashing into each other is plain boring.
Take the pads off and tackling becomes an art.
In a country where rugby is so prominent and popular, the NFL is not going to win over people with pads and helmets. As far as the UK is concerned, you can’t be tough if you need pads to tackle someone.
2. It Isn't Even a League
What is going on there in the NFL? It is not a National Football League at all; it’s just teams in random groups playing teams in other groups.
In Europe a league is where each team plays every other team an equal number of times. The best team wins the league. It should be simple.
Even your groups might work, if you insist on playoffs. Groups all play each other, top teams in each group make the playoffs. That would make sense.
But no, instead you have a ridiculously complex system whereby you not only play inter-division, but inter-conference as well.
It makes no sense, how can you select the best team, when each team plays different opponents?
Simple answer is, you can’t.
1. The Super Bowl
What is the Super Bowl? It should be a sporting event where the two top teams in the NFL battle it out to decide a champion. Instead, it is just show business.
The game gets in the way of everything else.
The pre-game show, the National Anthem show, the half-time show and the post-game celebration show. Not to mention the commercials.
It appears from the outside that the Super Bowl has become a show with a game, rather than a game with a show.
The NFL may well have originally derived from British sports, such as rugby and association football (now soccer), but these days the NFL is truly American, and maybe that is reason enough for the Brits to hate it.
Do you think a London franchise will ever work for the NFL?