The Oakland Raiders are headed to London in 2014, a game that is highly anticipated across the pond thanks to the presence of promising offensive lineman Menelik Watson being on the Raiders roster as the Manchester born former Florida State Seminole is one of England’s best NFL talents. Something that has the country excited for the London game between the Raiders and the Miami Dolphins this fall.
After two popular games last season, the NFL is extending the number of games played in London to three in 2014, continuing to sell high numbers of tickets to Wembley Stadium and occupying one of the best venues in sports while growing the sport to a sustainable popularity in the UK despite the challenges of the time difference and the complexity of the sport.
While some players and coaches complain about the jet lag taking its toll, others have embraced the passion of the UK fans when they have experienced playing a game at Wembley. That includes new Raider running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who will be playing at Wembley for a second straight season after playing the San Francisco 49ers in London with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.
FanSided.com reported that Jones-Drew recently spoke to BritViewNFL.com, and gave his thoughts on a potential expansion team in London in the coming years. Mentioning that he personally is on board with the idea of giving the fans in the United Kingdom a team, noting that the passion of the fans and the city of London could make for a good destination for an NFL franchise if the league can manage the toll of the time difference.
You know what? I think they deserve one. It’s just the toll it takes on the body because it’s so hard to fly across the pond. I think the fans deserve it and London deserves it because it is a great city.
My only worry is the toll it would take for a team to go back and forth and how would you get that done? There are some things they would have to work on – they might have to bring the Concorde back and cut that time in half. But you never know.
Fans in the United States may be opposed to the idea of sacrificing one of their franchises to a country that is more famous for the other football than the one that has helmets and shoulder pads, but the league continues to grow in popularity across the pond each year. That may make London an attractive destination for the league, especially if they can house their eight home games each season at Wembley Stadium. The future could hold a team in London, but as MJD said there are a lot of things to work out before a European based NFL franchise becomes a reality.