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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Talk of NFL expansion abroad is just. . . talk



You may have come across some buzz today about the NFL reiterating its wishes to play more games in Europe in the coming seasons. And by more, we mean more than the one per year that is currently being played in London and, maybe one day, the possibility of a team being permanently based there.

That's where I have to pause. This is a fun little debate, but does anyone really see the NFL making even a semi-permanent move into the United Kingdom? I say no.

I fully expect the league to try and increase the number of games being played abroad because of the potential for additional revenue, but that's a whole other concept than a permanent move by an NFL team. The outcry at home would be considerable, even in markets that are perceived to be weak, like Jacksonville. And frankly, it's far more likely that a weak franchise be moved to Los Angeles than the U.K. because the NFL has made returning to L.A. one of its primary goals. We won't even bother getting into the arguments about unfair disadvantages that would come along with playing abroad, like the unbelievable travel demands (Remember Antonio Bryant's knee swelling up on the flight home from London?).

Now for the reason this is on the Bucs blog to begin with. The piece I linked to above from above mentions the Bucs as a possibility to move abroad because they are a team that is having trouble filling its stadium. But this suggestion lacks context. The Bucs drew very well until the downturn in their win-loss record last season. And they still haven't missed a sellout since moving into Raymond James Stadium. So, to assume their attendance issues are anything more than a temporary problem is a little presumptuous.

So, too, is any suggestion that the NFL will work on a permanent basis in Europe. The game still has minimal interest among Europeans when compared to soccer. When the Bucs played the Patriots in London in October, the game was sold out, but that's because 1) it's still a novelty there and 2) there were a fair number of Americans at the game.

So, before we start hyperventilating about the potential for the Bucs moving abroad, just take a step back and realize it'll probably never happen.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:57pm]


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