London-based NFL franchise moving closer to reality

By Vincent Frank
Nov 1, 2015; London, United Kingdom; General view of game 14 of the NFL International Series between the Detroit Lions and the Kansas City Chiefs at Wembley Stadum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL announced on Thursday that three games will be played in London next season. For the first time ever, all three will seemingly have some sort of playoff implications with the league making sure to bring a solid product across the pond.

On the very same day as the London schedule was set, NFL executive vice president Mark Waller took time out of his schedule to talk about the possibility of a franchise heading to the European capital city full-time. And it now appears that it is closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Waller told Press Association Sport (h/t The Guardian) that there was “no decrease in the enthusiasm for London” from among the 32 team owners around the NFL. He also concluded “that they all know the numbers stack up” when it comes to London hosting an NFL team full-time.

“You could say it’s been an 11-year tease, but various strands would seem to be coming together,” Waller continued.

These are strong words from a higher-up within the NFL’s brass. It’s a clear indication that the league views European as its next real destination in expansion or relocation.

Though, there are still a ton of logistical concerns. Short of realignment, any team relocating to London would likely already have to be based on the east coast. The Jaguars themselves have obviously been bandied about as a possibility. Then, there’s this whole thing about divisional opponents having to travel to London once per season and those out on the west coast having to do so at a much a higher clip than right now.

In turn, the unnamed London-based team could have some issues with having to travel to the West Coast of the United States potentially multiple times every couple seasons.

But as we’ve seen with the NFL, the powers to be are willing to overlook logistical issues for the betterment of the league’s bottom line. An NFL franchise in London would impact said bottom line a great deal. That leads us to believe something will get done here at some point over the next couple years.