NFL Plans Three More Games In Mexico Between '19-21
The NFL ahead of Sunday's New England Patriots vs. Oakland Raiders game in Mexico City announced three more regular season games "will be played" in the country from '19-21, according to Randal Archibold of the N.Y. TIMES. The NFL is "striving to expand its presence internationally." It has played regular season games in London since '07, with four games there this year. Sunday's announced crowd of 77,000 "treated this event like a Super Bowl nearly the entire time." Just about "everything on the field drew an emotional, throaty response" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/20). In San Francisco, Emily Green wrote there was not "an empty seat to be found in the stadium, fans yelled out ear-popping cheers throughout the game ... and people were thrilled that the NFL had returned to Mexico." The NFL's "flirtation with the country is turning into a long-term relationship" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/20). Patriots player Devin McCourty said, "This atmosphere was awesome. To be out here in pregame ... the crowd was crazy. We knew when it came game time they'd be into it" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/20).
ALL ABOUT LOGISTICS: In Boston, Ben Volin reported Mexico is a "devoted market for the NFL," and the league believes the fans there "deserve to host a real" regular season game. NFL Exec VP/Int'l Mark Waller said, "There's a secondary goal, which is building more of the connectivity between our Mexican fans and the U.S./Hispanic fan base." The logistics are not "a challenge" for NFL events in Mexico because Mexico City is in the Central time zone and close to the U.S. Next on the list appears to be a "return to Canada," where the NFL has hosted six regular season games, and a game in Germany (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/19). SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Peter King wrote the league is "likely to play a minimum of five" of its 256 regular season games outside the U.S. through '20. That is a "lot of home games for teams to be giving up," and there is "going to be an internal battle across the league in the next couple of years" (SI, 11/20).
STILL PLAYING CATCH UP: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote assuming "respectable behavior, every U.S. trip to China ... is a worthwhile endeavor with long-range benefits." The "contrast to the NFL could not be more glaring." A "dying" sport cannot be "grown." Football’s demise is "likely many decades from reality, but it’s not gaining popularity and will never expand worldwide" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/19).