Thursday, February 02, 2017

NFL showing its international intentions

I could write rant after rant after rant about Donald Trump, but frankly that would be boring, so I want to tackle some other stories here for a little bit.

I am a bit of a sports fan, okay, a lot of a sports fan, and I'm getting ready for the Super Bowl this weekend, and saw with interest on a recent episode of Around The Horn, a story about the NFL playing a game in Mexico City next year.

It does look like that the NFL is showing its hand with regards to adding more international teams to their roster.  London has already seen many NFL matches with 4 more coming up next season.

But the NFL's history with the World League Of American Football, later NFL Europe League and NFL Europa; gives some interesting background.

For the 1991 and 1992 seasons, there were more North American teams than European ones.  Only one of those teams was outside the US, and it wasn't in Mexico, it was in Canada.  The Montreal Machine.  The other North American teams by the way were Birmingham Fire (that's Birmingham, Alabama, not the West Midlands), New York/New Jersey Knights, Ohio Glory, Orlando Thunder, Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks, Sacramento Surge & San Antonio Riders.

Other than New York, who already have the Giants and the Jets, none of the other cities in the North American section of the WLAF, have a current NFL franchise.  Interestingly though, Florida already has 3 teams in their state.  Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins.  The Carolina Panthers are based in the same state as the Skyhawks were but at the other end of the state.  The Cincinnati Bengals are in the same state that the Glory were.

The European teams were across a greater number of countries originally.  The UK had the London Monarchs, Germany had the Frankfurt Galaxy and Spain had the Barcelona Dragons.  When the World League became exclusively European in 1995, they added the Netherlands with the Amsterdam Admirals, and they added teams in the UK and Germany, the Scottish Claymores and the Rhein Fire in Dusseldorf.

When the London Monarchs tried playing home games in different locations in 1998, rebranding themselves as the England Monarchs, the move ultimately failed and the franchise was shutdown and replaced by the Berlin Thunder.

Gradually NFL Europe became more and more NFL Germany, as Barcelona Dragons were shutdown in 2003 and replaced by the Cologne Centurions, and the following year, the Scottish Claymores were closed down and replaced by the Hamburg Sea Devils.  Only the Amsterdam Admirals would keep going as the sole non-German NFL Europa team until the league folded in 2007.

So, whilst the NFL's international ambitions have been there for a long time, the lack of international success in terms of building teams, doesn't bode well.

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