LONDON — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL’s overseas success doesn’t mean the Super Bowl is crossing the Atlantic or that the league is going back to continental Europe.
Goodell said the expansion from two to three NFL regular season games starting next season has the league exploring how to continue growing its International Series brand. More games could come to London, which will need a franchise before it can even dream of hosting the Super Bowl. And that is some time away.
“We don’t have a timetable for (a London franchise). We want to continue building interest, and if it continues to go well we believe a franchise could be here. The Super Bowl won’t be played anywhere where we don’t have a franchise,” Goodell said on Saturday.
“Right now, our focus is on the U.K. since the European fans can get here. We want to build on our success here, and whether it leads to a permanent franchise or not, then we can see. What happens here will dictate that.”
Goodell said demand from NFL teams to play in London was more than it could handle, and that a game could be held in Sunday prime-time hours next year. Monday and Thursday night games in London have been ruled out, as has holding preseason games or the Pro Bowl overseas.
Photo: The San Francisco 49ers have arrived in London to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second game of the 2013International Series.
Goodell applauded the Jacksonville Jaguars for embracing the International Series, with the Florida-based team signed up to play four regular season “home” games at Wembley Stadium over four years. The first is on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
“Jacksonville is an interesting experiment. I think fans there see that it’s good for their community, that it’s putting Jacksonville on a global stage,” Goodell said while addressing some Jaguars fans complaints about losing one home game over these four seasons. “Whenever there is going to be change, there is going to be resistance to change.”
Goodell met with a selection of NFL fans alongside 49ers great Joe Montana and former Jaguars offensive lineman Tony Boselli on Saturday.
The enthusiasm of overseas NFL fans was palpable inside the Grand Ballroom of the Landmark Hotel, with a scattering of NFL team jerseys in the audience featuring names such as Brady, Kaepernick, Bettis and even Tebow.
But it was Montana who won fans over when asked what he would do if appointed NFL commissioner for a day.
“I’d put a franchise over here,” Montana said.
IRVING, Texas – For the majority of 54 seasons, the Dallas Cowboys have enjoyed the moniker of being America’s Team.
Now, they’re going to officially take the show to England.
For the first time in franchise history, the Dallas Cowboys will play a regular-season game overseas. In 2014, Dallas will participate in one of the NFL’s three scheduled games in London for the 2014 International Series. The Cowboys will play the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are giving up their home game, to play America’s Team at Wembley Stadium.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell officially announced the move this week in London, revealing all three matchups. Along with the Cowboys and Jaguars, the Falcons will host the Lions and Oakland will host the Dolphins.
While the dates have the game will be announced at a later time, the Cowboys and Jaguars are expected to have their bye week following their matchup in London.
For years, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said his team could play in the London game, but always as the road team. With AT&T Stadium drawing anywhere from 80,000 fans to as much as 105,000, the Cowboys would never agree to give up one of their eight home games.
However, the crowds in London have been rather respectable over the years. Since the NFL first started playing regular season games in London in 2007, the games are averaging 82,443 in seven games. From 2007-2012, the NFL has played just one game per season in London. This year, two games are scheduled and next year the league is bumping the number up to three.
“Our fans in the UK continue to demonstrate their passion for more football,” Goodell said. “Next year for the first time we will play three regular-season games in London. We have scheduled three attractive games with four teams playing in their first International Series game. The growing enthusiasm for the NFL internationally is exciting and we look forward to continuing to respond to this interest in our game.”
The International Series has increased NFL fan interest in the UK, with a current fan base of more than 12 million, including 2.5 million avid fans, a 30 percent increase in avid fans in the past two years.
Television ratings have shown substantial growth in the UK since 2006 – with Sunday viewership of NFL games almost doubling and the Super Bowl audience having increased 75 percent. The league also has developed new and stronger business partnerships.
Participation in amateur football in the UK has risen since the start of the International Series, growing by approximately 15 percent per year since 2007.
The Cowboys’ opponent next year might garner a few fans in London by next year’s game. Not only are the Jaguars playing the 49ers this week, but Jacksonville has agreed to play in the UK every year through the 2016 season.
The Dallas Cowboys played in the first American Bowl in 1986, when they met Chicago at Wembley Stadium. Dallas also played Detroit in London in the 1993 preseason.
The Dallas Cowboys have also played preseason games in Tokyo, Toronto, Mexico City and Monterrey.
But unlike all of the other meetings, next year’s game will actually count in the standings.
Editor comments: This website can vouch for the NFL’s claim about significant interest coming from the UK. Our website hits from the United Kingdom are ranked fourth behind the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Fans following the Dallas Cowboys (and NFL) on this website have originated from 152 countries around the world. The European nations, when combined, are ranked #2.