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NFL wants third game, franchise -- maybe Jags? -- in London

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The Jags are once again rumored as a possibility for London. (USATSI)
The Jags are once again rumored as a possibility for London. (USATSI)

The NFL has never made a secret of its desire to get its mitts on fans in other countries. (Neither has any sports league, for that matter.) And according to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the league hopes to take the next step in doing that by adding a third London game and a franchise in England.

Goodell, speaking at a New York University conference on Tuesday, confirmed an October 2012 report from CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora -- as well as his own comments since then -- that expansion into London's market share is a key goal for the league.

Per Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the league is looking at adding a third game in London "very soon." Additionally, the NFL believes the game is getting a good reception in London and is interested in putting a franchise overseas.

And who could that franchise be? Well, it sure does sound like it might be the very team La Canfora mentioned back in October: Jacksonville.

However, after Goodell's talk, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union that Goodell did not indicate the Jaguars would play two home games in London. Additionally, the Jaguars declined to say anything further about a second game.

"Our focus is on one game per year we are committed to play there the next four years," a Jaguars spokesperson told Stellino. "That's all we're thinking about."

What is happening, though, is the NFL is going through what Aiello called an "internal process" about whether or not to give a single team a second game in London in the future. Aiello said no decision has been made at this time.

This is pretty much the essence of what La Canfora reported in October. And as he noted at the time, it's not like owner Shad Khan is shying away from having the Jaguars become international.

"The NFL is going to be developing an international fan base. Why shouldn't it be the Jaguars?" Khan said in December of 2011. "In all honesty, internationally, they don't know the difference between the Jaguars and the Steelers."

And Khan's comments should have been a precursor to the possibility of multiple games featuring one team as well as the Jags playing multiple games overseas.

"I think it would serve Jacksonville well to play a game or two overseas, to get the name Jacksonville out. If you look at some of the international premier league teams, they have a huge fan following overseas in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, etc."

Now having noted all this, it should be pointed out that Khan has said he wants and plans to keep the team in Jacksonville. So don't bury them just yet.

But be reminded when discussing who might land in London that the NFL really wants to have a franchise overseas and the NFL almost always gets what it wants.

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