Can The NFL Really Play In London This Year?

COVID-19 is still spreading in Europe.

Will the National Football League resume its international presentation of games in England and in Mexico in 2021? That is a question that league officials probably still cannot answer. The National Football League has not yet announced its 2021 schedule but the unveiling of the dates does not generally happen in March. Usually, the schedule is released complete with the pomp and circumstances of a major sports event. One of the major features of the announcement is the dates of the games that will be played in London and Mexico City. The NFL is trying to expand its global reach and building up interest in England and in Mexico. In February, the National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said “we are planning for international games in 2021. That is the approach we are going to take.” The NFL will have to make a decision by May on whether games can be played in England or in Mexico. Recently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the U.K. may need to tighten border regulations to prevent the arrival of new vaccine-resistant variants.

In 2020, COVID-19 wiped out the international games. Shad Khan’s Jacksonville Jaguars football team was supposed to play two games in London during the 2020 season. Jacksonville was scheduled to play two home games in London, England on October 25th against Indianapolis and on November 1st with Detroit as the opponent. Atlanta was to host another London game playing Denver on September 27th and Miami was to be the home team in a match against New England on October 4th. Arizona was designated to be the home team for a Mexico City game. Those five games were rescheduled and played in the United States. The NFL may not be able to play games in London this year because the league cannot control the COVID-19 spread. London may not be calling.

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Jacksonville Jaguars mascot Jaxson waits to run out before the first half of an NFL football game against Philadelphia Eagles at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)