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Volume 20 No. 42
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London team would pose logistical challenges

The NFL would confront a host of logistical challenges fielding a franchise in London. Some are obvious, like travel times and scheduling. But there are other, more subtle considerations, as well.

“What about Tuesdays during the season when coaches and personnel people are bringing in people? There is no way you are bringing a free agent from California to London,” said former Oakland Raiders President Amy Trask.

Steve Mariucci, the former San Francisco 49ers head coach, overhearing Trask’s comment during last month’s CBS Sports football media gathering, offered that the team could have a presence in the United States to conduct business.

“But the head coach still does not get to meet the free agent,” Trask responded.

The NFL might try to tweak some of its rules to account for the time difference and geography of a London team.
As for other moves, chances are a London team would play its preseason games and stage training camp in the United States, Mariucci said. As more teams share training camp days with other squads, he said, a London team would need to be in the United States to do so.

When it comes to regular-season scheduling, a London team would likely call for an unorthodox slate of games.
NFL teams generally do not have more than two consecutive road games.

“If you have eight home games, maybe you have three road games in a row,” said Boomer Esiason, the former player and current commentator/analyst.

Many point out that there are already significant travel times in the league, such as Miami to Seattle, that equal or exceed an East Coast trip to London. Non-East Coast teams would have a longer trip, though, and the time difference of those trips would mean worse jet lag.

There also is the issue of what division a London team would reside in. If the Jacksonville Jaguars (hypothetically) were to move to London, their divisional rivals are in the middle of the country: Tennessee, Indianapolis and Houston. That would appear unfair to make those three teams travel to London annually.

When scheduling home games in London, would all games start Sundays at 6 p.m. local time, which is 1 p.m. on the East Coast? Sunday, Monday and Thursday night home games (on a U.S. clock) would appear out of the question, as those games would have to start in the middle of the night in London to match up with U.S. prime time.

The extension of that is that all home games for the London team would seemingly be ineligible for Sunday night flex scheduling, when attractive pairings are shifted into NBC’s evening slot. That’s important in that players considering London as a free agent destination would be disappointed to learn they’d have fewer chances to play on a prime-time stage.