NFL Expansion In London and Germany May Soon Be On The Horizon

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Expansion In London and Germany May Soon Be On The Horizon


NFL Expansion In London and Germany May Soon Be On The Horizon


Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It seems every year as the NFL sends regular season games to London, Mexico City, and now Germany, commissioner Roger Goodell wants to let European’s know he’s all in on the idea. For several years, the only team ever discussed as a likely candidate for the U.K. was the Jacksonville Jaguars. This week, Goodell went one giant leap further and announced he would like four teams (including a team in Frankfort, Germany) as part of a whole new division.

Groundbreaking? Not remotely. While the likelihood of expanding the league in such a dramatic fashion is low, the fact he spoke on establishing four teams across the pond indicates expansion is on Goodell’s radar. For the NFL, this is more about a commissioner with a big ego looking to expand his legacy, and building a global footprint. 

The positives and negatives from a practical viewpoint say that there are alternatives to such a dramatic move internationally. It’s also less complicated if NFL Europe is kept to a series of four-to-five regular season games versus an actual division. In no particular order, these factors need to be addressed.

1. NFL expansion is viable closer to home

The league has expansion possibilities in the United States and both North and South of the border. These alternatives have a much greater level of anticipated success than either London or Germany ever could.

-Mexico City Conquistadors (proposed)

Mexico City makes the most sense because of geography and proximity to certain NFL cities. In addition to a favorable time zone, natural rivalries are already established, giving the league a head start. A team located in a neighboring country like Mexico also would fit nicely in the NFC West. With the Dallas Cowboys already a global brand, fans would sell that ticket out every single time on a season to season basis. Also, the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and the Los Angeles Rams along with Mexico City and Seattle is a nice division to see on Sunday.

St. Louis Knights (proposed)

Re-establishing a franchise in a tried and true NFL city is easily done in the Midwest. St. Louis, MO. has lost two teams: the Cardinals and the Rams. St. Louis has a solid record of fan support and winning. New colors and a team name exclusive to the region would go a long way for a location the league left high and dry. As for their division, the AFC South would create natural geographic rivalries with the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans. It would also put the Jacksonville Jaguars in play to change divisions and potentially conferences.

-Oklahoma City Mustangs (proposed)

Oklahoma City is a smart candidate for NFL expansion. The Midwest is an absolute hotbed of football not unlike its border neighbors in Texas. If you go inside the numbers, Nate Silver at suggests that an expansion team in OKC would already have the support of 270,000 football fans who will not just support a passionate fan base, but give an anchor along with Kansas City in America’s Heartland. A division that would suit them from a competitive and geographical location is the AFC South contingent on a new division assignment for Jacksonville. A wildcard possibility is the AFC West.

-Vancouver Kodiaks (proposed)

Going North of the border will always make more sense than across the Atlantic for NFL expansion. Vancouver B.C. opens a world of possibilities for the league and division alignment. Like Oklahoma City, a fan base of 270,000 is more than likely. While a team in Toronto is a more appealing city given its infrastructure for team sports like the Blue Jays, Raptors, and Maple Leafs, it would also be an 18th team in the Eastern time zone. Out west, you have only five teams in the Pacific time zone: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles with the Rams and Chargers, and Las Vegas. Adding Vancouver on the West Coast is smart for network programming whereas Toronto is part of an already saturated East Coast. As for what is possible for either the AFC West or NFC West, both are incredibly logical for one simple reason, and that is the Seattle Seahawks.

To put the Kodiaks in the NFC West creates a natural rivalry with the Seahawks. However, worthy of consideration is the AFC West. The potential of having a division that featured both Vancouver, Seattle (who originally played in the AFC West after expansion), the Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos would be ideal for the NFL with one catch. To make it work, the stakes are quite high for Goodell. Moving either Denver or Kansas City to the AFC South and always keeping the Jaguars as a franchise to move out of that division to most logically the AFC East isn’t as far fetched as many in the commissioner’s Manhattan offices would think.

2. Where NFL expansion is not viable

Many potential landing spots for the league make less and less sense. London and Germany should only serve as host cities for NFL International play. Again logistically, even with four teams is a Fool’s Paradise. Domestically, cities that traditionally pop-up for consideration are both San Antonio and Austin, TX. With two NFL teams in that state already, there is no need to add another team. Portland, OR is another location often kicked around. Issues in the Rose City include unstable revenue and a skyrocketing crime rate that should raise the league eyebrows, and as much as fans in the Bay Area would love to see a team return to Oakland, a lack of funding for a new stadium is simply not there.

3. Maintain a good thing

League expansion will happen at some point. It’s a highly lucrative sport that is America born and the envy of professional sports leagues in the world. The current number and division alignments work well, with the exception of a few teams. The addition of two cities in the middle of the country, as well as two easily accessible international destinations reconciles an eye test that London and Germany do not. 

One last important consideration is one not often given much attention to. College football talent and whether it would support expansion. That may not square with the quality we already see on Sunday. With the exception of increasing roster size, where does the NFL find game day quality players? 

All things being equal, the status quo with gradual expansion in the United States and two neighboring international cities is the smart way to go. Hopefully, Roger Goodell will realize the folly of his ill-conceived vision.


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