NFL extends international series through 2025
A resolution passed at the owners’ meetings Wednesday will extend the NFL’s international slate of games through the 2025 season. This isn’t necessarily much of a surprise considering the league’s push to make football an international brand.
"This marks an important step in our long-term international growth,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said of Wednesday’s vote, via CBS Sports. "Fans in the UK have responded incredibly well to the regular-season games we have played in London since 2007. They have demanded more NFL games, and we have worked to accommodate them. We think it’s time to expand our International Series to other countries and respond to the growing interest in our game not only in the UK, but elsewhere around the world."
The biggest news to come out of the meetings on Wednesday is that Mexico has moved up on a list of potential venues to host regular season NFL games — potentially as early as the 2016 season.
Mexico would be less of a logistical nightmare for NFL teams than other potential host cities that have been linked to the league’s international series.
Mark Waller, NFL's exec in charge of international series, calls Mexico top option for games. "That's our biggest (international) fanbase."
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 7, 2015
Waller himself had indicated earlier this year that China was an option to host regular season games:
"The work we’re doing now is to ask, ‘How do we accelerate the agenda in Mexico, Canada and China?’” the NFL executive said back in March. “Those would be our next stage, and we have offices in those three countries. And then, after those, where should be our focus? I think we’ve concluded that Brazil and Germany are the next two frontier markets, which is where the Pro Bowl idea comes from.”
While expanding the NFL’s brand internationally makes perfect sense, the idea of Mexico hosting regular season games is just too obvious to pass up. There’s a clear market for the sport when it comes to the neighbor to the south. And in reality, teams would likely be lining up to consume a piece of that pie.
Now that the series is extended through 2025, London will continue to get annual games. Seen as a burden to fans here in the United States — last week’s game between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets started at 6:00 a.m. PT — it has drawn widespread appeal in Europe. In fact, the game sold out faster than any since the inaugural matchup between the Dolphins and New York Giants in 2007.
With Mexico and London firmly in the mix to host regular-season games, there still remains the possibility that Brazil could host the Pro Bowl in the not-so-distant future. This could be a way to expand the product on a more widespread scale while enticing players to actually show up for the otherwise meaningless game.
While the NFL has received a nice amount of backlash for its stances on specific issues over the past year-plus, its decision to push the product to previously unimaginable areas of the world can only help further the idea that the NFL itself transcends the American sports scene.
Check out Vincent’s other work on eDraft.com and follow him on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL
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