God Save The Queen From This Mess In The Making
By Joe Scumaci
This Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium across the pond in London. It will be the eighth regular season game played on European turf since the inaugural game played in 2005 by the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals.
The result of that first game was a blowout, 31-14 in favor of the Cardinals. Since that game, four of the other seven contests were determined by six or more points and were fairly unappealing to the casual fan.
The most recent London game was played last season between the New England Patriots and the St. Louis Rams (45-7, YUCK!). That game was sold out rather quickly, as it is becoming more and more evident that the game of football is at its most popular state. And it helps that Tom Brady isn't just beloved in America, but also in Europe.
Rumors continue to grow increasingly faster every year that it is only a matter of time before an NFL franchise is born in London.
Please National Football League, do not do that to the NFL fans here in America.
More importantly, do not put your players through the treacherous 16-game season flying over the Atlantic Ocean every week. According to United Airlines, a flight for the Chicago Bears to London, non-stop, would be almost nine hours. Throw in the time zone change and the tweaking of a team’s schedule and you are talking about grumpy players and coaching staffs.
You think the San Diego Chargers are historically bad flying from the Pacific Time Zone to play a 1 p.m. Eastern Time Zone game? Imagine them after a nearly 11-hour flight over to England and trying to get up to play a regular-season game. Chalk that one up as a loss.
Not only would players deal with time zones changes, adjusting travel plans, exhausting flights and picky TSA employees … now add in the weather factor Europe typically experiences in the fall. Two of the seven games played in London were at least partially, if not entirely, played in a torrential downpour. The Miami Dolphins and New York Giants played the second game in London in a rain-soaked mess, resulting in a 13-10 Giants victory that was unwatchable to viewers in the United States.
The weather in Europe can be uncooperative for hosting a football game and is more suitable for soccer if you ask me.
According to NESN.com, Terry Bradshaw seems to agree with the fact that there is no place for American football in London. “I think it’s the most disrespectful thing you can do to these teams, to make them travel over to London to promote our NFL product,” Bradshaw said. “You’re not ever going to have a team [relocate] over there. If you’re going to do anything, go to Canada every year — [there] could be somebody up there eventually. But I don’t get it."
The Buffalo Bills have experience with regular-season games north of the border in Toronto. That makes sense when you look at the other three major sports the United States has. The National Hockey League has multiple teams located in Canada from Vancouver to Toronto. The National Basketball Association has the Toronto Raptors and had a team in Vancouver some time ago before it was relocated to Memphis. Toronto also hosts a Major League baseball team, the Blue Jays, and at one time has a franchise in Montreal.
If the NFL wanted to relocate outside of America, it is understandable and makes sense for the league to have a team in Toronto before they have one in London. The flight is shorter, the city has experience hosting American professional sports teams and the country to the North also has the CFL, also known as the Canadian Football League. The CFL is similar to the NFL, but there are different rules and modified scoring. Many players have come from the CFL and found success in the NFL.
Los Angeles is another metropolitan city that is starving for an NFL franchise. Rumors about the Jacksonville Jaguars leaving their tiny city for a much larger home would make sense if they went west to America’s second largest city.
This year, the NFL is sending the 0-3 Vikings (now starting a backup quarterback) to play the 0-3 Steelers across the pond. Obviously the league didn’t plan to send these two teams to Europe without a combined win, but that is how it played out and it would be tough to imagine high television ratings for two teams nearly out of the playoff picture before October. It's safe to say one team's season is done with a loss on Sunday.
The Vikings had to alter their practice schedule to plan for a travel to London; the Steelers chose not to. If this game fails to move the needle in American television, then it will only back up the idea that the NFL does not belong in London. The players don’t want it, the fans don’t either, but if a greedy owner wants to make his mark on NFL history, we could see a team 3,500 miles away from New York City. Now ask players in Oakland, San Diego and Seattle how they feel traveling 6,500 miles one-way and 13,000 miles round trip. They won't be happy, I'll guarantee that.
Dollar signs and international growth are the main perks of moving a team to Europe, but as you have seen, the quality of the games played at Wembley Stadium just aren't up to par and don't make sense.
“Football” was created in America and deserves to stay here, while “the other futbol” should reign supreme over there.