The NFL has "every option ... on the table" regarding London, including a team "moving there, an expansion team, more than three games (the 2014 schedule) and perhaps even a slate of eight games, played by different teams every year," according to Peter King of THE MMQB. There is a thought that because there is "no 'home' team in England, and selling a bad Jacksonville team will be problematic right now, a good option is every team alternating." However, that "won’t be a good option the minute you tell a Packers, Steelers, Broncos or Seahawks fan he or she has to lose a home game for the sake of expansionism." King: "I sense frustration from some around the league that the NFL spends huge money to put on a great show in England one to three times a year, and the media there ignores it" (MMQB.SI.com, 10/28).
Majority of Wembley Stadium crowd stayed until
the end of 49ers-Jaguars despite it being a blowout
TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday said, ''We don't have a timetable for (a London franchise). We want to continue building interest, and if it continues to go well we believe a franchise could be here. The Super Bowl won't be played anywhere where we don't have a franchise. Right now, our focus is on the U.K. since the European fans can get here. We want to build on our success here, and whether it leads to a permanent franchise or not, then we can see. What happens here will dictate that" (AP, 10/26). ESPN.com's Bill Williamson noted Goodell was asked about bringing the NFL "back to L.A. and where it ranks on the league's wish list compared to putting a team in London." He replied, "It doesn't matter. I'd love to be back in Los Angeles. But it has to be done the right way, we have to do it successfully. ... I want both (London and L.A.), but it doesn't matter which one is first" (ESPN.com, 10/26). Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said, “One thing that Roger has been about is growing the pie of the NFL. He feels -- and I agree with him -- that our foundation, where we are right now economically, the interests that’s in our game, some of the things that we’ve been able to get done put us on sound footing to think about a 'wow'-type expansion effort. Certainly Los Angeles is that in spades, and London makes me smile when I think about the NFL having a team in London” ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 10/27).
MIXED BAG: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote of putting an NFL team in London, "Nobody can legitimately rule it out." The NFL organized a "fan rally Saturday at Trafalgar Square in central London, and there were moments you would have thought the Rolling Stones were in concert." Goodell is "tapping into the London money pit to see how a soccer-crazed culture will respond to real talent playing real games." Six years into the "experiment, the dollars keep pouring in." The idea that the NFL "could never put a team here or anywhere in Europe ... doesn't seem as far-fetched as it once was." There is an "increased feeling in the U.K. that the NFL brand is gaining a stronger foothold" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 10/26). In S.F., Ann Killion writes the 49ers "survived the NFL's ill-advised push to be a global entity." Goodell "apparently thinks that exporting lousy NFL teams to a world-class city somehow makes them world-class products." The NFL over the years has "sent abroad the winless Dolphins, Buccaneers, Steelers and Vikings and now, the Jaguars." It seems "odd that a league that ostensibly is concerned about player health and safety thinks that traveling to another continent to play a game is a great idea" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/28).
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: In London, Szczepanik for the INDEPENDENT noted a fall-off in attendance for the Jaguars' "third and fourth games of their residency might force a rethink about the future of games in London, let alone a team permanently based here." Yet Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, who owns EPL club Fullham, already is talking about playing Jaguars games at the club's Craven Cottage facility, which "cannot happen until the NFL contract with Wembley runs out in 2016, so nothing is ruled out" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/27). Also in London, Henry Winter noted Khan sees the EPL "learning from American sports and vice-versa." He said, "A hard salary cap (as in the NFL) would certainly sustain soccer in a big way. In the Premier League it's very much a 'you eat what you kill' concept. Merchandising and marketing is all done at club level whereas in the NFL you sell the rights to the League, split them up and each team is going to end up with more money. That is very, very difficult when you have relegation and promotion" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/26).
GIVE AND TAKE: Jaguars President Mark Lamping said that playing in London offers the team and Jacksonville "a chance at making money." He said, "London will certainly generate significantly more revenue than if we played that game here in Jacksonville. It also creates an awareness of the team and the community." Lamping added that the team is "still focused on what he calls the 'core market,' the counties surrounding Jacksonville plus Central Florida and South Georgia, but the NFL cut a special deal with the Jaguars." In Jacksonville, Andrew Pantazi noted the Jaguars have "special rights to British sponsorships (and money)." City and Chamber of Commerce execs have been "meeting with business leaders in London this past week hoping that, regardless of how the Jaguars perform, the delegation will bring some success to Jacksonville, namely jobs." They met with "a solar-energy company from Ireland," a "site-selection" company that helps businesses relocate, an aviation company, a property company, a software company and food company Greencore. City Council President Bill Gulliford on Friday said of Jacksonville, "We just don’t have the exposure. … We’re not Orlando, we’re not Miami, we’re not Fort Lauderdale, all those known names. But I think we’ve got a great opportunity" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/27).