Executives from some NFL teams reportedly feel playing a regular-season game in China during the 2019 campaign is an "unrealistic" goal.
On Thursday, Albert Breer of The MMQB reported the NFL, which originally wanted a contest in Beijing this September, has shifted its short-term focus toward getting more football played in China. He added there are "no great signs" a meaningful game will be played soon in the country.
NFL owners hope to ensure the league can build a successful long-term partnership in China, similar to the one in London, according to Breer. They also want to make sure teams can make the long overseas trip without being at a disadvantage when they return.
There could also be issues with televising the game in the United States since Beijing is either 13 hours ahead of the East Coast or 12 hours ahead (during daylight saving time).
In April 2016, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell discussed eventually having a bigger presence in the world's most populous country:
"China's a huge market. We all know that. Anyone who's in business here, you know you want to reach important markets. That's an important market for us. If we can make inroads there, we think that's important for us long-term in our global strategy of making football more popular on a global basis. I wouldn't say a franchise in China is something that's on the front burner for us right now. ... I think if we could do that, we'd do it in London."
Reuters noted New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said during a trip to the country last year he'd enjoy an opportunity to play a game there.
"My dream is to play a game here in China someday," he said. "It's just a great event and hopefully a lot of the Chinese people would enjoy it."
For now, it sounds like 2020 would be the earliest that could happen. Breer reported more details about the situation are expected during the NFL's annual meetings next week.