Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings will be playing this week in the NFL's annual London showcase game.
Commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to broaden the league's international appeal by having games played across the pond. It's a good idea, but he also has designs on having a Super Bowl played there and a team based out of London. Not so good if you ask me.
Steelers safety Ryan Clark told ESPN that he would rather retire than play for a team in London.
“I’d retire. I’d definitely retire,” Clark said.
“That team would be asked to travel eight weeks of the season extremely far away,” he said. “It would be extremely tough to ask. I don’t know if guys want to relocate their families, have their families educated in London, have their families relocate to London. It just seems like a hard deal for players to do. I can’t see unrestricted top notch top caliber free agents wanting to go to London to play football.”
Clark's thoughts echo that of former Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw who blasted the league for having games in London and Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth who also said he'd contemplate retirement if he were forced to play in London.
Families may not want to relocate to London, but heck, some don’t relocate to the cities where dad plays right now. There are tons of guys who live in Green Bay during the year and out in California in the offseason. London would be the same deal.
I really think the reason not to do this is because the NFL is a uniquely American game that has not been shown (no matter how hard we’ve tried) to have wide international appeal. Similar to soccer in the U.S. You may have pockets of fans, but you would never see a Premier League soccer team relocate to the U.S.
I say give London the Pro-Bowl or some exhibition games. There are plenty of U.S. markets that would support an NFL team. I think Roger should be pursuing other cities besides L.A. and London. I know he’s looking for the big markets and the big cash, but the NFL is gonna make money no matter where it is. Why the need to farm out an American game to a country that is lukewarm toward the NFL? And why keep pushing the NFL on L.A. when they have proven time and again they won’t support a team? Why not give a smaller market a shot? Just don’t put it in a state with two other teams (see: Jacksonville) and you should have a rabid fan base. Look at the success of the OKC Thunder in the NBA. That was a great example of relocating to a small market done right. Why can’t the NFL at least explore that option? There are some great football regions lacking a pro team like San Antonio, Memphis, Portland or Las Vegas .