Roger Goodell: 'Realistic' possibility that London gets an NFL franchise
An NFL franchise in London is starting to sound more realistic.
The NFL's presence in London could be getting slightly more permanent sometime in the near future.
The topic of putting a team in London came up during a town hall-type meeting with Goodell, where Jaguars season-ticket holders were able to ask the commissioner several questions.
"I actually believe that a franchise in London is realistic," Goodell said.
Since the Jaguars play in London almost every year, it wasn't a complete surprise to hear one of their season-ticket holders ask about an NFL team possibly moving there.
A team in London might be "realistic," but it won't happen just yet because the league still has a few issues it needs to work out.
"We're still trying to make sure we can do it from a proper competitive standpoint," Goodell said. "You don't want to put a team over there and have them at a competitive disadvantage. And then the logistics, how you work that out. That's not easy."
Although things like the exchange rate, flight time to London and regular-season scheduling could all be potential issues, Goodell said the league would have no problem overcoming any of those obstacles.
"I think we can find solutions to those issues," Goodell said. "The way we schedule and the way we do things, those are things we're still focused on. As a market, I believe they can support a franchise."
The commissioner didn't put a timeline for when the NFL might put a team in London, but Patriots owner Robert Kraft did recently. During an interview with Pro Football Talk in late March, Kraft said that the league could make a London decision by 2020.
"I really believe it could happen," Kraft said. "The logistics have to be worked out and I think as we continue to play three games there and maybe even more that a decision on that could happen before the end of the decade."
Bengals owner Mike Brown didn't offer a timeline, but he did say at the NFL owners meetings in March that he thought London would likely be getting a team eventually.
"I think it is going to happen," Brown told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I don't know when and I don't really know how. But do I think there will be an NFL team in London someday? I think there will be and my hunch is that it will be sooner than most people think."
The NFL will hold three games in London in 2016, marking the third straight year that three games have been held in England. Goodell says the plan is to only get bigger.
"The basic strategy is to grow our game. We think that any time we share our game with people in other markets, they love it," Goodell said. "I'm very optimistic about our continuing growth on a global basis."
One of the reasons Goodell is optimistic is because the league no longer has to beg teams to play in London.
"I think we're going to have at the end of this season, 24 of our 32 teams will have played internationally, the demand from the teams to go over far exceeds the number games we're playing now," Goodell said. "We don't really have to push teams to go anymore. They want to go."
The one thing that Goodell, Kraft and Brown didn't mention was how exactly a team in London would work. It's still not clear if the league would expand or relocate a current team.
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