Since 2007, the NFL has been going to London, England every year to host regular season games, which have been held at Twickenham Stadium and Wembley Stadium. The NFL started off with one game and has increased it to four. The attendance of these been games have been any where from 73,000 to 83,000 which is very impressive for an international NFL game. This year the fans across the European continent were treated to a new experience. This year marked the first year that a MLB regular season game took place in London. Major League Baseball didn’t pull any punches and gave them the very heart of the leagues history, legacy and prestige. It doesn’t get any better than the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox which begs the question, how will the NFL respond in the future?
This year the NFL will have four regular season games in London. Those game are: Chicago Bears vs. Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams, and Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars. With all due respect to those teams and their talent, those are not prime-time marquee matchups. At some point, the European fans are going to catch and want more than what their being given. If the NFL wants to respond to something great, give those fans Brady vs. Brees or a potential high scoring game like the Chiefs and the Rams. The British crowd loves offense and high numbers, which was very apparent from their reaction last weekend at London Stadum(formerly known as Olympic Stadium). The crowd in London was electric for baseball. They were into all the traditions of the Red Sox, Yankees and baseball in general. The one aspect where baseball has an advantage is they can customize the dimensions of their playing field in order to give players and fans a unique perspective.
While the NFL has mediocre matchups this year, it didn’t take long for Major League Baseball to follow up on the momentum they built over a two day period. They announced that in 2020 that it would be the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs playing in London which ranks up high for a storied rivalry in sports, especially in baseball. In year one, the NFL gave London the New York Giants vs. Miami Dolphins. The Giants went 10-6 that season while the Dolphins went 1-15. The following year, they got the San Diego Chargers vs. New Orleans Saints. Both teams were at .500 by the end of the season. Neither one of those matchups had any significance of a rivalry either, which makes me wonder if the NFL is content just having a presence over there. Baseball proved and has the attitude they just don’t want to be content. They want to give international fans the very best that they have.
Going forward, I would like to think the NFL would give London better games then what they have in the past. Sending the Jacksonville Jaguars over six times in eight years doesn’t appeal much to me and shouldn’t appeal to an international crowd. An international crowd should want the absolute best that each league has to offer. It doesn’t matter if it’s MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL. If you want to expand globally, then that means stepping your game and giving your absolute best for those pay the high ticket prices to come to a unique sporting event. I don’t know what the future holds for the four American sports and their presence overseas, but from where I sit Major League Baseball is now the standard bearer for international presence and everyone else now has to step up.