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: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:24 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

What a terrible piece it's okay so you don't agree with "the london game" no worries.But to use one set of stats to try and show how teams suffer from the journey is absolutely wrong.What were the combined records of the teams before the Wembley game i wonder?These ten standout teams must have had a combined winning record prior to the arduous trip to London if this argument is to hold up.Well a quick tally tells me that they were a mindblowing 25 - 41 (I'm open to correction here) which works out at a staggering 37.88% and if my Math holds up the combined total of 32 - 52 after a trip to Wembley works out at 38.1%.A deterioration of +.22%.So,John when is a deterioration not a deterioration?

Since: Dec 13, 2010
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:23 pm

Bad math?

2008 – Saints 4-4, Chargers 5-3

2009 – Patriots 5-4, Buccaneers 3-6

but the fact that only one out of 10 emerged out of the trip with a winning record (and barely, at that)

Um, 5-3 and 5-4 are both winning records. Did I miss something?

Since: May 19, 2011
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:06 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

As a Rams fan this is bad news for so many reasons:

1)  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.

2)  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.

3)  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.

4)  This smells of a real life version of the owner in the movie Major League.  No care for what a decision does for the fans or the ability to win games.  But sabatoge your team for the opportunity to get out of a stadium lease.  There is a potential out of the St. Louis lease after three more seasons.  Kroenke is doing his part to make sure he can get out.

5)  Currently season ticket holders are forced to buy two pre-season games for the 8 home game tickets...Great now we are buying the two meaningless games but only getting seven games.

Kroenke has now shown his cards.  The writing is on the wall, and his intentions are pretty clear. 


Since: Aug 1, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:45 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

I think to further highlight the issue being discussed, the fact that anyone asked if Troy Smith was a QB of the future was a huge red flag.

I also don't think the trip to London will be the reason the Rams don't make the Superbowl in the next three years.

Since: May 31, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:44 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

no- better the nfl comes to my homecountry austria is waiting for u ;-)

Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:35 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

I understand the idea behind this, but also know the brits "literally" could care less about the sport we call football. So why are we putting our teams at a disadvantage? This is certainly not fair to any team that could use one game to make the playoffs?

Since: Aug 30, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:33 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 22, 2008
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:30 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?


Since: Sep 14, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:26 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

Americanflyer, I think your way off. Did you see the results in the article ? The negative effect was overwhelming. This will make the Rams rebuilding efforts much more difficult. I wonder if Fisher was told about this before he picked the Rams ??????

Since: Aug 22, 2008
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:17 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

What do all those stats have to do with anything?  Are you trying to correlate playing in London to a losing season?

This whole article is just dumb.  I thought this was going to be about fans in Europe (which there are a lot) or about the "home" team losing a game at home here stateside.

But to try and make it seem like playing in London makes teams worse is just stupid.  I hope you don't get paid for this.

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