The NFL In Europe: A European Division Is Not Happening
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell did his best two decades old impression of a fellow commissioner talking to the London media in discussing the possibility of establishing a four-team NFL European division. Goodell sounded an awful lot like the late NBA Commissioner David Stern who about 20 years ago started pushing the notion that the NBA could have a European division once there were enough NBA state-of-the-art arenas available in European cities. The NBA is no longer talking about a European division, in fact the NBA isn’t even talking about domestic expansion these days for a variety of reasons including having to negotiate a collective bargaining contract with its players and hammering out a new TV-streaming deal.
Goodell said, “there is no question London could support, not just one franchise, I think two franchises. We’re trying to sort of see, could you have multiple locations in Europe where you could have an NFL franchise? Because it would be easier as a division.” Here are some obstacles in the way. There are NFL caliber stadiums in Europe, that’s a plus. There is no football ecology in Europe or football in Goodell’s transitional sense. Soccer is huge, American football is not pushed onto kids starting at the age of five or six. There would need to be a collective bargaining agreement provision with the players to allow the NFL to set up shop in Europe. Some American politicians might not be happy with the league putting teams in London or Munich or Berlin after the league abandoned Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis. The league may have to deal with stadium issues in Cincinnati and Cleveland and the NFL is finding that not everyone in Nashville is onboard spending billions of public dollars on a new stadium. The NFL European division is not happening anytime soon.
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