The prospect of an NFL franchise being placed in London within the next decade is one that has garnered high-level support in the United States for quite some time now.
The likes of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and influential owners such as Robert Kraft (New England Patriots), Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Dr John York (San Francisco 49ers), Michael Bidwill (Arizona Cardinals) and Woody Johnson (New York Jets) have told me that there isa strong and growing belief that London will and should have its own NFL franchise.
Now you can add a former Hall of Fame quarterback and a high-level team executive to that growing list of supporters after Denver Broncos Executive Vice-President John Elway told BBC Sport that he thinks a London franchise could succeed and that the NFL players would cope with such a bold and historic move.
Logistics has been treated as something of a dirty word when discussing a potential London franchise. It is, without question, a sizeable factor given the large distances a London team – and their opponents – would have to travel, as well as other issues such as taxes and work permits.
But Elway feels all those issues can be overcome and doesn’t feel logistics should slow the NFL’s operations in the United Kingdom.
In this article, Elway told BBC Sport:
“I don’t think that would be an issue. For the most part, we’d adjust. I think everyone in the league is getting used to adjusting. We have Monday night games, Sunday night games, Thursday night games – our players do a tremendous job of adjusting.”
Elways belief that players would adjust was echoed by Hall of Fame wide receiver Andre Reed on his recent visit to London. When asked if free agent players would balk at playing for a London team, the former Buffalo Bills star told BritViewNFL:
“I don’t think they would. I would have played in Alaska when I was in the NFL, so long as I was getting that pay cheque.”
I spoke with Elway a few years back when he attended the Denver Broncos-San Francisco 49ers clash in 2010 and he was very supportive of international growth. Like so many NFL stars who are blown away by seeing the British NFL support in the flesh, Elway went away impressed and certain there could be considerable growth in the UK in the future.
The two-time Super Bowl winning passer told BBC Sport:
“I think it’s great we’re playing three games over there. It exposes everyone to our game of football, especially regular season games because they count. I definitely think there’s a possibility of someday having an NFL franchise over there.”
Elway’s support is pleasing for a couple of reasons. First, he is a high-powered team executive who could influence Denver’s decision to play at Wembley Stadium and who wouldn’t want to watch Peyton Manning and that offense in person? And second, he comes at the logistics problem from the view of a team executive but also, more importantly, as a player who knows what it takes to win on Sundays.
The fact that Elway the former player has no issues with the logistics of a London-based franchise can only be viewed, in my opinion, as a massive positive.
Photo credit: Sergiy Zhytnikov
Categories: A London franchise