This week, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press took the temperature of the Detroit Lions as it related to the NFL's reported desire to land a team in London, and managed to find plenty of diplomatic answers along the way.
"I think it would be pretty cool," said Tahir Whitehead, the Lions' second year linebacker. "I'd be fine with it. Being able to play in a different area, different country, I think it would be a cool experience."
Whitehead, though, quickly didn't seem as enthusiastic or diplomatic about playing for a team in London, where as Birkett mentions, players would have to live in a foreign country half the year, play miles apart from their family and friends who support them and undergo several other changes which are normally uncommon to football players.
That, in itself, is the biggest problem with the NFL's desire to expand internationally. For teams to play overseas, travel back and forth constantly and conduct business for a primarily American entity in a separate country would be a definite stretch. From a revenue standpoint, of course there's no reason football executives wouldn't want to tap into more disposable income across the pond.
Money, though, should never be the only reason a business makes a major move. Logistically, there's a handful of other places in America that deserve an NFL team before London does. Los Angeles immediately comes to mind. Or, as Dominic Raiola jokingly told Birkett, how about Hawaii? There's already a stadium there which hosts an NFL event and fans which have constant access to the sport, so important seeds are in place making Raiola's suggestion seem logical.
Though soccer has made serious inroads in America in the last decade, if the shoe was on the other foot, a Premiere League team would never try and expand into the states. There's just too many logistical and cultural roadblocks to such a move. Football may be getting more popular overseas by the day, but the chances for financial failure are greater considering the variables and most importantly, the imposing distance.
By today's terms, the NFL is the closest thing to a cultural empire. When the British crown tried to expand once upon a time, they met resistance in America and were overthrown. Roger Goodell should be mindful of such history when considering a move to plant his flag in England.
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