Goodell supports football in Olympics
Should football — not the sort played with a round ball on the pitch, but the American brand with tackling, helmets and pads — be a part of the Olympic Games? Absolutely, says NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is actively pushing for the International Olympic Committee to take notice of what arguably is America’s favorite sport.
“We’re already taking steps to gain that IOC recognition,” Goodell said Friday during a radio interview on the "Dan Patrick Show." “We have, I think, 64 countries that are playing American football now, and that’s one of the requirements.
“That’s been growing dramatically — I think it was just 40 (countries) just five years ago.”
More than two decades ago, Goodell was closely involved the NFL’s first foray into the international arena, working with former World League of America president Mike Lynn as American football was formally introduced in 1991 to overseas cities such as London, Barcelona and Frankfurt.
From the start, the WLAF was beset by logistical problems and limited appeal. The NFL’s world offering eventually morphed into NFL Europe, then NFL Europa. Teams came and went in Amsterdam; Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg and Rhein, Germany; Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland. The London Monarchs spun out to Birmingham and Bristol, England.
The well-funded worldwide American football initiative — intended to be a “feeder” league or minor league for NFL franchises looking to develop talent — finally went away for good in 2007.
Goodell remains convinced, even after the NFL’s international league foundered, that American-style football could evolve into a worldwide game. He has aggressively pushed for preseason and regular-season games to be played in Canada, the UK, Europe, Japan and Mexico.
He also has speculated about the possibility of a Super Bowl being staged in London.
"Our point is just to keep growing the game," Goodell said. "We’re having a tremendous reaction in London and the UK for the game of football, our regular season game over there is sold out again this year, we are seriously contemplating as early as 2013 playing two NFL games next season and I think we’ll do that.
“It’s a response to the tremendous fan reaction and the growth of the game. If we can continue to grow the game there and have the fan reaction that we have, there very well may be a franchise in London."