On Sunday, the New Orleans Saints played a "home" game in London, England. It was a high-scoring affair, with the Saints beating the San Diego Chargers, 37-32. The game put the Saints back at .500 going into the bye week. It was the most exciting game the Saints have played thus far. Shame it was experienced at "home" in Wembley Stadium and not at home in the Superdome.
I understand that the NFL wants to expand its product, but why take away from the loyal fans that have supported their franchises for years? It would be nice if there was a way that both teams lost a road game for playing the International Series game. But there could be an easy solution.
Since the Saints lost a home game this season for playing in London, for the 2009 season, the team should be rewarded the prime-time Thanksgiving game on NFL Network. This prime-time matchup does not have a permanent sight, unlike Detroit and Dallas earlier in the day.
It would be a great thank you to the team and the city for the lost game. But there are also other reasons that the Saints should be given the game as well.
The Saints are already in the midst of four consecutive games away from the Superdome and five weeks between home games. The Saints mean a lot more to the city of New Orleans than some other teams out there. They have been the life-force of the city for years; there is no reason to take away a home game.
Looking at next season's home opponents, according to the NFL scheduling formula, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and an NFC North team to be determined are all coming to the dome. Along with their three home division games, next season is going to be filled with top billing possibilities for a Thanksgiving showdown.
I could see the commercials and headlines now, Eli Manning returns home for Thanksgiving to take on his hometown Saints. It's the kind of game that would make a perfect fit for the spotlight. Jeremy Shockey faces his former team, Corey Webster returns home, Sean Payton faces a team he once coordinated. This game is too good to pass up for a prime time Thanksgiving game!
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should look at the prime-time Thanksgiving game as a standard reimbursement for any team that loses a home game to the International Series. This way, the fans will not feel completely cheated out of a game.