America’s National Football League, our most successful professional sport, held the first of three exhibition games at London’s hallowed Wembley Stadium, on the Sunday before last. The Miami Dolphins played the Oakland Raiders before a sold-out audience. Miami is well-known to many Europeans as a good place to stop for a few days, en route to many other places in the Western Hemisphere. And, the Raiders, of Oakland, California, has fan clubs worldwide due to its tough guy image.
Before the NFL gets too enthusiastic in jumping to the conclusion that London, or Europe, is ripe for a full-time team, it really should think again. Consider that the Dolphins spent eight hours in air travel time, and the Raiders thirteen, in addition to going through Customs and hotel check-in. And, be sure to factor-in that that whole process has to be repeated on the return trip, as well.
Now, think of how that time would eat into the practice schedule of a European team that would go through that whole ordeal, for eight regular season, and two pre-season, games in America each year. That’s half the season! Also, this would be during the season, not like the World Cup, which ends several weeks before the European football (soccer to Americans) season begins.
Now, which established team (or teams) would be designated to re-locate from the U.S. to anywhere in Europe? The New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburg Steelers or New England Patriots? Don’t bet on it! None of those cities would be willing to give-up their home-town team, and the owners certainly wouldn’t move or sell them. But, there is one team that is often suggested to be the first. But why is that?
The Jacksonville, Florida Jaguars are that team. Most of the other teams are reasonably to exceedingly profitable–which means TV rights, ticket sales, team paraphernalia, etc. Apparently, the Jags are the one team that might be either willing, or could be persuaded, to move or sell. But think about it: if a team cannot cut-it in football-crazy Florida, what would suggest that it would in London, Frankfort, Barcelona, etc? There’s no way!