NFL Fan Rally In London's Trafalgar Square Attracts 40,000 People
The NFL "took over" London's Trafalgar Square on Saturday afternoon as "40,000 gridiron fans enjoyed a spectacular Fan Rally in central London," according to Sunni Upal of the London DAILY MAIL. Players from both San Francisco and Jacksonville attended the event, as did former San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and cheerleaders. The NFL's presence in the U.K. "continues to grow," but Goodell "played down talk of London hosting the Super Bowl in the near future." Goodell: "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" (DAILY MAIL, 10/27). Reuters reported that Sunday's game, a 42-10 victory for the 49ers, "was a sell-out with 83,559 fans at Wembley, one of the largest crowds in the NFL this season" (REUTERS, 10/17).
WINNING THE HEARTS AND MINDS: In London, Nick Szczepanik wrote that some see the "logical outcome" of the Jaguars' four games in London is that the team will move to the city. Full houses will persuade Jags Owner Shahid Khan "to increase the number of Jaguars visits after 2016" and eventually establish the first NFL franchise in the U.K. The other side of that coin, however, is "the unglamorous Jaguars could struggle to capture the imagination or loyalty of British NFL fans unless they are hosting big-name opponents such as the 49ers, or the Dallas Cowboys, their visitors in next year's game." If attendance falls off, it "might force a rethink about the future of games in London, let alone a team permanently based here." The NFL is "prepared to play the long game." Goodell said, "We want to create success here. It depends on fan support continuing to grow. [If] at some point in time it will become obvious a team here could be successful then we have to figure out other issues. Like which team, or teams" (INDEPENDENT, 10/27).