Last year, the Dallas Cowboys had a successful trip to London. In Week 10, they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-17 in front of a predominantly blue and silver crowd of 83,603. With Cowboys fans from across the globe in attendance and clearly outnumbering the so-called ‘home team’, the lure for a return was evident.
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On Wednesday the NFL have announced a ten-year agreement with the English soccer team Tottenham Hotspur to host a minimum of two NFL games a year at their new stadium. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said:
"“With growing enthusiasm for the NFL in the United Kingdom, we are committed to hosting NFL games in world-class venues and are excited to partner with Tottenham Hotspur to play games at their future stadium. We share a vision and commitment to creating the best experience for our teams, fans and the local community.”"
By the end of the 2015 season the NFL will have hosted fourteen games in London since 2007. Business is clearly booming with economic rewards both sides of the pond. And there’s no smarter businessman in the NFL than the Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
"“I sense an increasing interest in the sport and the ability in the UK to attract fans. This is incrementally a new market, there are new eyeballs there…I like the lay of the land.”- Jerry Jones"
The talk of a London NFL Franchise is still on the cards, but logistically it’d be a nightmare. Firstly there’s the travel involved.
"“I don’t want to diminish the importance of our players getting a good rest but they are young and used to jumping on a plane and going for five or six hours from coast to coast.”- Jerry Jones"
There were concerns last season after Tony Romo missed the Arizona Cardinals game in Week 9 that the journey to London would be too much for his back. But as the picture below suggests, there was no such trouble!
While an NFL Franchise could bring in excess of £100 million to London, any players based in the UK team would be hit with more severe tax rates than the US. Could the NFL really enforce players born and raised in America to relocate to another country should the London team draft them? Nevertheless, it’s apparent that the sport is set for a long association with those on the other side of the pond.
By years end, twenty of the thirty-two NFL teams will have played in London. The Miami Dolphins will face the New York Jets in what will be their third away day at Wembley over the last eight years. While the games are supposedly offered on a rotational basis, teams can volunteer. Jerry Jones is adamant he wouldn’t forgo a home game, an away fixture in England is a more than viable option.
"“…we don’t want to forgo a home game. That’s not something that we’re interested in doing. But our away game, and our ability to play away, has always been a consideration, something that we would do.”"
With Efe Obada joining fellow Brit Jack Crawford in Dallas, it’s surely only a matter of time before they again bring their team ‘home’. After all, the Cowboys aren’t just America’s team; they’re the World’s.