NFL games in London? Sure. A franchise overseas? Depends who you ask


The Vikings open the NFL's 2013 London schedule Sunday with a battle between two of the seven winless teams in the league, when they take on Pittsburgh at high noon.

Some may argue a matchup of two teams that have been so porous this year would be a tough ticket to sell.

Think again.

84,000 tickets have been sold to watch these two cellar-dwellers wage battle on the Wembley Stadium pitch, usually reserved for England's national soccer team.

The NFL's other international series contest comes in Week 8 when the Jacksonville Jaguars (you know, the Jacksonville that is in Florida (for now)) "host" the San Francisco 49ers.

So what keeps English fans more famous for their football (soccer) coming back to Wembley to take in our football (football)?

Perhaps it's the novelty, with American football only coming around once or twice a year in Europe, which keeps things fresh and stadiums full.

Perhaps it's the superstars, with Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder (LOL), er, Matt Cassel (LOL), er, Brett Favre (LOL) being the main draws to this tilt that will likely give someone their first win.

But perhaps it's neither of those, perhaps it's the sheer craving and fan-dom for American football, something that may inevitably lead a franchise to London.

Is it plausable? Is it feasable? Is it other big words that mean yes? That's a loaded question.

For years, the NFL has wanted to expand their global presence, and it continues to do so, with three NFL games a year coming to London beginning next season.

The ultimate goal for the NFL is to get a team overseas, and the UK's government is on board.

So with two big entities both in favor, why not make it happen? Well, we only gave you one side of the story, this plan does have it's detractors, and the list is not short.

First, there's talking head Terry Bradshaw, who says the idea and execution of having players travel overseas is "disrespectful."

On to people that have facts and figures to back up their talking, with NFL UK Managing Director Alistair Kirkwood saying that a "tripling" in the NFL fan base in England is necessary for a franchise to move there.

Then there's the biggest and most important group that stands in the way of a franchise in London becoming a reality, the players. Rams defensive end Chris Long says he would be "absolutely livid" with a team in London because of the logistics. Cincinnati offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, the Bengals' union representative, says he wouldn't go to London, and feels he is not alone in that opinion.

At some point, they may not have a choice.

With plenty of interest from British fans and government and the decision makers in the NFL's front office, the NFL Players Union will be under major pressure in the coming years to take a positive stance and give the green light to a franchise in London, which could be as early as the end of the decade.

After all, if there's this much support for a Steelers-Vikings game, imagine the outpouring of fan support if, you know, a good team was there.

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