Highlander Hot Take: Why the NFL should not pursue international expansion

The National Football League has toyed with expanding the number of teams in the league in recent years, and recent games played internationally indicates they might try to do something unique.

That would be international expansion.

Of the four major sports leagues in North America, the NFL is the only league without a team outside the United States. The NBA, NHL and MLB all at least have one team located in Canada.

However, recent reports have suggested that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan is looking to purchase Wembley Stadium to permanently relocate the Jaguars to London, but he has since denied those reports.

Having a team in London is a high risk, high reward type of investment. However, having just one team in London is problematic for scheduling. It likely means that the proposed team would have to spend long road trips in the US and not return home for several weeks. Visiting teams would likely be exhausted just making the trip overseas, which would lead to a sloppy product on the field.

Scheduling for the playoffs would be difficult as well, especially since each round of the postseason happens in back-to-back-to-back weeks before a two-week grace period prior to the Super Bowl. A London team would likely need the number one seed in their conference to give themselves the best shot at a Super Bowl and minimize the concern of traveling. For a team on the road, it would be very difficult to travel quickly after a game the previous week to their next destination across the pond. This possible traveling scenario gives the proposed London team an almost unfair home-field advantage.

However, before any expansion team even thinks about a playoff push, they have to invest in young talent and free agency to build their team from the ground up.

The problem is, who would be willing to live overseas for their pro career?

I do not believe many players would be willing to make such a life-changing decision to continue their career. Rookie draft picks would have no choice but to play overseas for the first few years in their career, and they might just play out their contract until they can become a free agent and return to the U.S., leaving the team void of the talent needed to compete in the NFL. The free agents they would attract are likely to be veterans who are past their prime years and want to extend their career any way they can, so it might be possible that a London team might be sending out a player like Brian Hoyer until they can find their version of a Jared Goff in the draft.

International expansion might seem like a juicy idea at first glance, but until the NFL can find a way to address competitive imbalances, they should just focus on North American expansion and find ways to increase interest in gridiron football without looking overseas.

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