Blog Entry

Is playing in London really worth it?

Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:53 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 10:30 pm
Wembley Stadium

By Josh Katzowitz

Rams owner Stan Kroenke is excited about his team committing to play a regular-season game in London for the next three years. As he should be, considering he’s also the owner of the English Premier League’s Arsenal soccer team and because he and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell want to continue expanding the league brand into Europe.

While some St. Louis fans, already worried that the Rams could be the team to relocate back to Los Angeles in the near future, probably wonder if this news will pave the way for the organization eventually to leave the city, there has to be another concern for the franchise. Basically, how will the long trip across the Atlantic Ocean affect the team for the rest of that season?

In 2010, I talked to then-49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes for a Five Questions (or more)* interview, and he recalled how long it took for his teammates to recover from the long jaunt.

“We got there Monday morning, and we didn’t recover until that Thursday,” Spikes said. “That’s when everybody’s bodies were back on schedule. I can’t even imagine doing what Denver wanted to do and expect them to feel well-rested and alert. I know for us, even on Wednesday, I still couldn’t go to sleep on time."

*As a casual aside, to let you know how quickly fortunes are made and lost in the NFL, this conversation occurred 14 months ago, and I talked with Spikes about whether Troy Smith was the quarterback of the future in San Francisco. Not Alex Smith. Troy Smith.

[RELATED: Take our Facebook poll: Do you want your favorite NFL team playing in London?]

It’s a change for coaches and players obsessed with a normal weekly routine, and you have to wonder if it’s a disruption that makes the rest of the season a difficult task. In other words, does the trip to London help the NFL’s brand but ultimately harm that team for the rest of the year?

Let’s take a look.

Here are the results of the trip to England from 2007-11.

2007 – Giants 13, Dolphins 10

2008 – Saints 37, Chargers 32

2009 – Patriots 35, Buccaneers 7

2010 – 49ers 24, Broncos 16

2011 – Bears 24, Buccaneers 18

Here’s how those teams finished the regular season:

2007 – Giants 4-4**, Dolphins 1-7***

2008 – Saints 4-4, Chargers 5-3

2009 – Patriots 5-4, Buccaneers 3-6

2010 – 49ers 4-4, Broncos 2-6

2011 – Bears 4-5, Buccaneers 0-9

And here is the cumulative record from those teams after participating in the London trip: 32-52

**Of course, the Giants won the Super Bowl that year, beating the 18-0 Patriots in the process.

***To be fair, the Dolphins didn’t win any games before the London trip.

Three of those squads (the 2007 Giants, 2008 Chargers and the 2009 Patriots) made the playoffs. Sure, you could make the case that most of those squads were fairly mediocre in those particular seasons, but the fact that only one two out of 10 emerged out of the trip with a winning record (and barely, at that) is a sign that perhaps Kroenke shouldn’t be too excited about making the trip the next three seasons.

Because so far, we’ve seen that the trip just isn’t worth it for a team’s long-term results.

UPDATE (3:00 p.m. ET): One of our readers brings up a good question: what was the teams' cumulative record before the London trip. It was 22-30 for a winning percentage of 42.3. The winning percentage for post-London teams is 38.1.

So, not a huge disparity, but I maintain the answer to the original question is the same. Is traveling to London a good idea for your team? No. Does it harm your team in the long-run? For the majority of teams, yes.

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Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:27 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jan 20, 2012
Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:15 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

Being from and living in the UK, and being a big American football fan, I do think its worth it. I know the players have to put up with a lot and the home fans lose a game but if the NFL wants to be truly global, and, unfortunately, whatever the fans like, it does, then the regular season games are a must outside of the US. Kroenke is probably doing it because he owns Arsenal and that's a shame for Rams and NFL fans around the world in general.

Since: Dec 26, 2010
Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:13 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

Can we just send goodell there forever. maybe he should quit his job and go screw europe over with his own EFL(european football league) and leave our footall league alone.  Hopefully the next commissioner can put the NFL back the way it should be.  A manly sport not some little baby league.  goodell must have good suction because he seems to get what he wants.

Since: Jan 20, 2012
Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:08 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

No! No! No! IF & when Europeans REALLY love AMERICAN football, they should buy tickets, airfare, hotels, rental cars, & food HERE!. Football IS an American sport. It's not soccer or rugby. Why does every GREEDY business in the USA have to outsource their product to foreign countries? And, peoplple still haven't figured out why unemployment is so high, yet corporate America continues to make record profits, but pay NO taxes.

Since: Aug 14, 2011
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:59 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

Playing games in London is ridiculous. Just give them the preseason games. It's also dumb for Buffalo to play in Canada as well.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:57 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

Been a Rams fan since the 70s and I live in NY (not SoCal, not St. Louis).  I started to like them because they were often the "late" game on TV.  So maybe this exposure will give them a broader fan base?  It couldn't hurt.  Its not like finding Ram merchandise has ever been easy even when they were the GSOT.  In other words, this could be a way to make the franchise more relevant on a league wide scale.  Again, it couldn't hurt.  And I'm sick of always hearing, reading or seeing stuff on the Cowboys or Giants or whoever the flavor of the year is.  This does put the onus on Fisher and his gang to make them competitive and again, I'm all for that.  And I can understand Silent Stan's plan of forging a connection between his two franchises (Arsenal plays in London too).  Maybe Arsenal will play some "friendlies" in St. Louis if they ever get a stadium that meets international standards?  The Yankees have been forging a tie with Man U, so this isn't such a dumb idea (creating a branding of an NFL team with an EPL team).  I like the idea actually.  Arsenal is annually one of the "haves" in the EPL too (there season this year has been crazy but they've come on lately).  So that identification can only be a plus for the Rams.  I'd love to see the Rams become the Arsenal of the NFL.  As for their permanent location, I've been to games in Anaheim and in St. Louis and they were both great places for them to play.  I would prefer they don't permanently relocate to England - mainly because I could never see them and because I can't see how that wouldn't be a major disadvantage when securing players and coaches.  But having them play there once a year is ok with me.  Its not like they're ready to contend in the next 2-3 years anyway.  Maybe they can develop a following over there in time to become a powerful team?  Then they can trump Dallas' "Americas Team" and become the "Northern Hemisphere's Team"?  LOL...

Since: Feb 25, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:51 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

How many NFL fans want to see their favourite team playing Europe?  The answer is ZERO.  How many fans want to see the Super Bowl in London?  The answer is ZERO.  How many fans want to see a Super Bowl in China?  The answer is ZERO. 
You are not considering European or Chinese NFL fans to be fans ? Sounds quite like nazi to me. If you want to make it US game only, you need to start with excluding foreign players and more important, stop calling Super Bowl a "world championship". It is even worse in MLB, where the final series is called ridiculous "World Series", LOL.

Since: Feb 25, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:41 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

As a Rams fan this is bad news for so many reasons
No, it is not. Quite opposite.

In addition to the fact that there is apparently a lingering affect on a team from making this trip, there is the loss of a legitimate home game.  Home field advantange actually means something in the NFL.  The Rams will have 7 home games the next three years.  Everyone else...8.
Their opponent has to make a trip as well. If they commit to playing more games in Europe, they can actually stay there for longer periods while their opponents will have to travel for a single game. If all this travelling is really that devastating (hint : it isn't, it's just overrated topic), why not turn it into advantage ? If they stay in London long enough, they will feel right at home, so it will still get them home advantage.

For season ticket holders they will lose one of the attractive games on the schedule next year vs. the Pats.  Will it be a choice like this every year.
They may buy the tickets cheaper, as they are getting less games. The extra income for the owner will come from the tickets he will sell in London. Last time checked, British Pound was worth more than inflated US $.

 For the vendors and employees that work these games.  This is a real and serious loss of income.  For the hotels, restaraunts, parking lots etc... in downtown St. Louis.  Serious loss of income.
Thisi is first time I hear that owner of the Rams also owns all the hotels and restaurants in St. Louis. If he doesn't own them, why should he care what they earn ? If he is forced to get less money from vendors as the number of games in St. Louis is reduced he can get extra money from licenses to vendors in London. Plus english fans will drink more beers.

Currently season ticket holders are forced to buy two pre-season games for the 8 home game tickets
Current season ticket holders are most likely eligible to hold a passport, thus it is possible for them to travel with the team and see all the games. Plus they will have a chance to see the real football, one that is actually played with foot and ball (hence the name) and perhaps stop call the orignal game soccer and find appropriate name for game Rams are playing, such as DumbRugbyClone.

Since: Sep 9, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:31 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?


Since: Aug 26, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:25 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

There is very simple answer to this question – NO!

Playing in London, like most of Roger Goodell’s whacky ideas is a bust.  Unfortunately the lacks-a-dale attitude of the owners and their inability to reign in this fool and his silly ideas is discouraging.  Let’s have a poll… How many NFL fans want to see their favourite team playing Europe?  The answer is ZERO.  How many fans want to see the Super Bowl in London?  The answer is ZERO.  How many fans want to see a Super Bowl in China?  The answer is ZERO. 

Roger Goodell is probably the most hated commissioner in NFL history, and the only thing keeping him from being the most hated commissioner of any sport is the fact the Bud Selig remains the commissioner of MLB.  The owners should cut their losses and fire this joke of commissioner.  The man singlehandedly handed the owners a complete defeat in negotiations with the NFL players association with his constant need to garner face time on TV, and outright lied about the owners position on several occassions.  If they haven’t figured out that Goodell is no good for the NFL or them, then they haven’t been paying enough attention.

In fact, the only reason he announced this foolishness the weekend of the championship games is to piss off Belichick... He knows that Belichick hates playing in a country where people know nothing about the NFL, and that Belichick considers it a waste of time.  Why would he do that you may ask?  Well – lets figure it out.  Goodell is from Jersey… His favourite team is the NY Jets.  The last time his team made it to the Super Bowl, Roger was 10 years old and his favourite QB was Joe Namath.  That’s why Goodell is making this stupid announcement.  He’s trying to throw Belichick of his game.

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