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NFL Outreach: Why Canadian Expansion Teams Should Be Allowed in the NFL

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 20:  A giant Canadian flag is held up by the crowd in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quaterfinals between the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Place on April 20, 2010 in Ottawa, Canada. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators 7-4. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
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John SzurlejAnalyst IAugust 31, 2011

As the NFL looks to experiment with bringing the league to a wider, diversified audience by holding experimental games overseas and in Mexico, the NFL is looking to branch out and become a worldwide attraction.

Much in the way soccer is the elite sport worldwide, the NFL has also wanted to branch out and capitalize in this market. 

Rather than looking for far-reaching audiences in countries that are a waste of time, the NFL should focus its attention to our northern neighbor.

Sports fans have already experienced this with Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL (importing its brand into this country's market).

Despite Canada having the Canadian Football League, an argument can be made for the NFL reaching out to bring new life into the league.

The questions: How to do it and would it be possible?

I believe the NFL has enough power and money to make this a very attractive possibility.

Considering the CFL has eight teams, which primarily consume Canada's major markets, it can be reasoned that if the NFL were to negotiate either expansion or consolidating the CFL into the NFL, the benefits would bring the NFL to the next level.

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 25:  Kerry Joseph #4 of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders scrambles for yardage against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the third quarter of the 95th Grey Cup on November 25, 2007 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo b
Harry How/Getty Images

Currently the CFL consists of teams in British Columbia, Edmonton, Vancouver, Hamilton Ontario,Calgary, Toronto, Saskatchewan and Montreal, which draw considerable support from Canadian fans.

The NFL could adopt a resolution with the CFL to dissolve the league and to consolidate the eight teams into two with a possibility of two more markets joining after a four-year period.

If this is possible, the CFL as we know it would allow for their own markets to bid to the NFL for expansion.  The current league players would be permitted to enter a draft where the new teams could build the foundation for their teams and then take part in the NFL expansion draft that follows.

This scenario may seem complicated, but it is a realistic approach to entering Canada's markets since they are already spoken for with CFL teams.

The attraction here is not just extended to fans, but to a multitude of revenue-generating options for the league and its players.

Secondly, the league is running out of available cities and states that could support an NFL team in this country and wants to avoid oversaturating markets with teams that will draw revenue away from other established brands. 

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 27:  A general view of an NFL logo on the field prior to the preseason game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 27, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwoo
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Why look to Los Angeles time and time again when someone mentions expansion?  The NFL has already been there and each time a team leaves for greener pastures.  The Raiders left for Oakland and the Rams shuffled off to St. Louis.  It just doesn't make sense.

Other states such as Texas and Florida are also just as saturated, as is the New York, New Jersey I-95 corridor, where there are five teams in the immediate area (Giants, Jets, Eagles,Redskins and Ravens).

There simply isn't enough room left in America that offers the same payoff that Canadian expansion could offer, and the areas that are available just can't survive in the big marketplace of the NFL, with the exceptions being Green Bay and Kansas City.

I think the addition of Canadian teams to the NFL would elevate the game and make it more interesting overall.  Unlike the other professional leagues, the NFL has the money and time to make an investment work. 

It would be interesting to see a rivalry between Montreal and Buffalo, Toronto and Detroit and so on.

I believe this fantasy can become a reality if the right deal could be reached and the NFL wanted to take the risk and capture a new audience.

Should Canadian expansion happen?  Absolutely!

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