It’s a big game in many ways as the New England Patriots take on St. Louis Rams in London’s Wembley Stadium. What’s at stake? The Pats are 4-3 and in first in the AFC East while the Rams are 3-4 and in last in the NFC West. Both teams could be 4-4 after the event with one moving up in their division and the other finding their position compromised. Or New England could be in a great place with the season halfway done and St. Louis could be in dire straights, finding themselves on life support. The two clubs have travelled a long way to play such an important game.
NFL Franchise in London
Of course this game is about more than NFL standings. Owners like Bob Kraft want a NFL franchise established in London. Kraft has been campaigning for this for quite some time.
The NFL threw a FanFest rally on Saturday in Trafalgar Square and Kraft was there. He offered his observations about a professional football franchise in London.
Kraft noted, “You’re already hosting the premier league, and we believe we’re the premier sport in the world. I think London has shown, with the way they’ve handled the Olympics and every other major sporting event, that it’s time for you to have your own NFL franchise, based in London.”
More Plans for NFL Games
This NFL contest is not the only one planned for London. The Jacksonville Jaguars will play a home game in London in each of the next four seasons. Kraft sees the worldwide development of the game and the league as being very important. But there are concerns about travel across the The Pond.
Kraft observed, “It’s part of the challenge of organizing yourself. You get different time zones, you get players sick, you get players injured. It’s just part of the operating experience. We only look at the positive side and we think the way we’ve set things up, hopefully we have a competitive advantage week in, week out, home or away.”
That particular statement makes me wonder about this whole thing. Is it smart to “only look at the positive side?” Have Kraft and other owners not considered the downside of putting a NFL team in London. It will be five time zones away from the U.S. east coast and 8 away from the west! How might that affect players?
Kraft went on to say, “I think every football coach in America that coaches in the NFL would prefer to have every one of their games at 1 o’clock Sunday at home. But that’s not the way the world works.”
He’s right about that but there’s a big difference between travelling from Boston to Denver and London to Denver. And any NFL team based in London will be playing half of their games on a very long road, putting them at a major disadvantage over teams that must travel across the Atlantic once during the season or not at all.