The Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer reported the groundbreaking news, as the league will look to build upon what it has already accomplished with its annual trips to London.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed the possibility of a game in China, according to ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert:
Kevin Seifert @SeifertESPN
Roger Goodell confirms potential of a regular-season game in China. “Excited about that potential.” Could be Rams in 2018.2016-3-23 14:40:58
While L.A.'s opponent has yet to be determined, Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 in Buffalo, New York, listed the possibilities:
Sal Capaccio 🏈 @SalSports
If you're wondering who Rams could play in China in 2018. If sked rotation stays same, it's any of ARZ, SF, SEA, GB, MIN, KC, SD, *NFCE team2016-3-23 14:25:36
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport discussed the impact of the Rams playing in China, as per the NFL's official Twitter account:
.@RamsNFL preparing for a home game in China? In 2018? (via @rapsheet) https://t.co/EAdUowAlBN2016-3-23 14:12:38
An NFL game has never been played in China, although the league scheduled a preseason game called the China Bowl for 2007, only to postpone it until 2009 and then cancel it altogether.
According to NFL.com's Judy Battista, the NFL was free to schedule the upcoming China game for 2018 without owner approval since it was already empowered to set up more international games:
Judy Battista @judybattista
Important note on potential China game: no vote necessary b/c owners already authorized NFL to sked more intl. games in UK and elsewhere.2016-3-21 15:21:21
New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch commented on the possibility of a game in China on Monday during the NFL owners' meetings and expressed some concern regarding the manner in which the league will handle it, per ESPN.com's Dan Graziano:
International is a big push right now. ... It's fascinating to think about. It's very exciting, very exotic to think about. But if we do get to a point where the NFL plays a game in China, the logistics are going to be interesting. A lot to figure out in terms of getting there, playing there, coming back from there to the States, how do you maintain the parity with the other 30 teams who don't have to play there. So, a lot to be worked out still before that could happen.
Fellow Giants co-owner John Mara also discussed the Rams' desire to play in China, per Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post:
The NFL previously announced that three games will take place in London next season as part of a series that has been ongoing since 2007.
In addition, discussions have taken place regarding games being played in both Germany and Mexico.
With China having a population of more than 1.3 billion, per Worldometers, though, playing there is potentially huge for the NFL in terms of presenting the sport to an entirely new fanbase.
The league has been aggressive on that front in recent years, and while it likely isn't ideal for the teams that will be forced to take such a long flight, the NFL's focus on globalization will take precedence.
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