NFL expansion in London and Germany could be on the horizon soon

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It seems that every year when the NFL sends regular-season games to London, Mexico City and now Germany, Commissioner Roger Goodell wants Europeans to know he believes in the idea. For several years, the only team ever discussed as a likely candidate for Great Britain was the Jacksonville Jaguars. This week, Goodell went a step further, announcing that he would like to have four teams (including a team based in Frankfurt, Germany) as part of an all-new division.

groundbreaking? Not from afar. While there’s little likelihood of expanding the league in such a dramatic way, the fact that he talked about creating four teams across the pond suggests expansion is on Goodell’s radar. For the NFL, this is more about a big-ego commissioner looking to expand his legacy and establish a global presence.

The positives and negatives from a practical point of view say that there are international alternatives to such a dramatic move. It’s also less complicated when NFL Europe is limited to a series of four to five regular season games rather than an actual division. These factors need not be addressed in any particular order.

1. NFL expansion is feasible closer to home

The league has opportunities for expansion in the United States and both north and south of the border. These alternatives have a far greater degree of anticipated success than either London or Germany ever could.

– Conquistadors of Mexico City (proposed)

Mexico City makes the most sense due to geography and proximity to certain NFL cities. In addition to a favorable time zone, natural rivalries are already established that give the league a head start. A team from a neighboring country like Mexico would also fit well into the NFC West. Because the Dallas Cowboys are already a global brand, fans sold that ticket every season, season after season. Also, the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams along with Mexico City and Seattle are a nice division to watch on Sunday.

St. Louis Knights (proposed)

Starting a franchise in a tried and true NFL town is easy to do in the Midwest. St.Louis, MO. has lost two teams: the Cardinals and the Rams. St. Louis has a solid record of fan support and winning. New colors and an exclusive team name for the region would go a long way towards a location that the league left high and dry. As for their division, the AFC South would create natural geographic rivalries with the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, and Houston Texans. It would also bring the Jacksonville Jaguars into play to switch divisions and possibly conferences.

-Oklahoma City Mustangs (suggested)

Oklahoma City is a smart candidate for NFL expansion. The Midwest is a soccer hotspot, no different than its border neighbors in Texas. If you look at the numbers, fivethirtyeight.com’s Nate Silver says that an expansion team in OKC would already have the support of 270,000 football fans, who will not only support a passionate fan base, but will form an anchor along with Kansas City in the heart of America. One division that would suit them from a competitive and geographic location is the AFC South, which is dependent on a new divisional assignment for Jacksonville. A wild card possibility is the AFC West.

-Vancouver Kodiaks (suggested)

Going north of the border will always make more sense for NFL expansion than across the Atlantic. Vancouver BC opens up a world of opportunity for league and division alignment. As in Oklahoma City, a fan base of 270,000 is more than likely. While a Toronto team is a more attractive city due to its infrastructure for team sports like the Blue Jays, Raptors and Maple Leafs, it would also be an 18th team in the eastern time zone. In the west, there are only five teams in the Pacific time zone: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles with the Rams and Chargers, and Las Vegas. Adding Vancouver to the west coast is smart for network programming, while Toronto is part of an already saturated east coast. What’s possible for both the AFC West and the NFC West, both are incredibly logical for one simple reason, and that’s the Seattle Seahawks.

Putting the Kodiaks in the NFC West creates a natural rivalry with the Seahawks. However, the AFC West is worth mentioning. The potential of a division with Vancouver, Seattle (which originally played in the AFC West after expansion), the Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos would be ideal for the NFL with a catch. Goodell has a lot at stake to make it work. Logically, moving either Denver or Kansas City to the AFC South and always keeping the Jaguars as a franchise to move from that division to the AFC East isn’t as far-fetched as many in the commissioner’s offices in Manhattan would think.

2. Where NFL expansion is impractical

Lots of potential landing spots for the league make less and less sense. London and Germany should only serve as venues for NFL International games. Logistically, even with four teams, it’s a fool’s paradise. Inland, cities traditionally considered are both San Antonio and Austin, TX. Since two NFL teams are already in this state, there is no need to add another team. Portland, OR is another place that gets kicked around a lot. Rose City’s problems include unstable revenue and a skyrocketing crime rate that should baffle the league, and as much as Bay Area fans would love to see a team return to Oakland, there is a lack of funding for a new stadium it just not there.

3. Cultivate a good cause

The league expansion will happen at some point. It is a highly lucrative sport that was born in America and is the envy of professional sports leagues around the world. The current number and division adjustments are working well, with the exception of a few teams. The addition of two cities in the middle of the country, as well as two easily accessible international destinations, reconciles an eye test that London and Germany fail.

A final important consideration is one that doesn’t often get much attention. College football talent and whether it would help expansion. That might not match the quality we’re already seeing on Sunday. Other than increasing roster size, where does the NFL find game day quality players?

Other things being equal, the wise path is the status quo with gradual expansion into the United States and two neighboring international cities. Hopefully Roger Goodell realizes the folly of his ill-conceived vision.

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