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League commences process of putting the squeeze on Wembley

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http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/07/14/league-commences-process-of-putting-the-squeeze-on-wembley/

 

Want conclusive proof that the NFL has put down roots in London? The league has begun the process of squeezing financially the only place that has hosted NFL regular-season games there.

The NFL’s contract with Wembley Stadium runs through 2016. According to Daniel Kaplan ofSportsBusiness Journal, the league has begun talking to other venues. Which of course puts pressure on Wembley to do a deal that the NFL likes, or risk losing the privilege of hosting the games.

Per Kaplan, one option consists of building a brand new stadium, in partnership with one of the teams that plays in the English Premier League.

The league has expanded in recent years from one annual London game to two and, starting this year, three. Despite ongoing talk of a team moving to London, the far better option would seem to be eventually playing eight games per year in England, giving the locals a full slate of games for the year, with different teams in each of the games and some of the teams (like the Jaguars) coming back every year.

Permanently placing a team in London would require the NFL to give the London team a separate set of rules regarding free agency and the salary cap. The schedule also would be screwy, with multi-week home stands and multi-week road trips to limit the travel demands on the London team.

The creation of a separate reality for the London-based team, which would at a minimum enjoy a higher salary cap, would invite criticism from fans of the American teams, if/when the London team becomes a contender. But if the London team doesn’t become a contender, the overall experiment would suffer and potentially fail.

That’s why the league will continue to talk about moving a team to London but never actually do it. Meanwhile, as the carrot of getting a team continues to drive short-term interest, the league will keep increasing the annual slate of games until enough are played there that the league can claim it is simulating the relocation of a team by giving England the ultimate American answer to strawberries and cream — a shrink-wrapped collection of eight small cereal boxes.

But I don't see how this gets the league to the ultimate goal of a very lucrative TV deal for europe. Also teams like Bmore will be pissed to lose a home game to London. Jax can get away with it because they are Jax but teams that always sell out would really piss fans off. Also there would have to be equity shown in you play 8 games there a yr. I would see it that every tema would sacrifice a game to London once every 4 yrs. I just can't see this plan working.

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http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/07/14/league-commences-process-of-putting-the-squeeze-on-wembley/

But I don't see how this gets the league to the ultimate goal of a very lucrative TV deal for europe. Also teams like Bmore will be pissed to lose a home game to London. Jax can get away with it because they are Jax but teams that always sell out would really piss fans off. Also there would have to be equity shown in you play 8 games there a yr. I would see it that every tema would sacrifice a game to London once every 4 yrs. I just can't see this plan working.

I love that Heinz put the stipulation in the Steelers comtrqct that 8 regular season games must be played there every year. it eliminates the Steelers losing a home game.
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I love that Heinz put the stipulation in the Steelers comtrqct that 8 regular season games must be played there every year. it eliminates the Steelers losing a home game.

They'll have an expanded season by then.

 

Seattle will love this.

 

I'm getting chased out of here. There's only so much crap I can take. 10 years of The London Browns and a watered down league will finish me as an avid fan.

Edited by vmax
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They'll have an expanded season by then.

 

Seattle will love this.

 

I'm getting chased out of here. There's only so much crap I can take. 10 years of The London Browns and a watered down league will finish me as an avid fan.

yeah I didn't even think about the expanded season damn it max.
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http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/07/17/robert-kraft-a-london-team-by-decades-end-should-be-an-nfl-goal/

Robert Kraft: NFL should strive for London team by decade’s end

The NFL will play a record three regular season games in London in 2014, further affirming the league’s commitment to building interest overseas.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft would like to see the league to take its relationship with London to the next level — and relatively soon.

Speaking at an event promoting CBS’ “Thursday Night Football,” Kraft said putting a team in London by decade’s end ought to be a goal the NFL strives “very hard” to achieve, according to Marc Sessler of NFL Media.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has previously said that if the league were to expand, it would do so by two clubs, not just one.

Without expansion, a London club would entail relocation one of existing franchises. And that, to say the least, would be messy.

 

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http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/07/18/goodell-sees-tremendous-demand-for-the-nfl-in-europe/

Goodell sees “tremendous demand” for the NFL in Europe

The NFL says it has a large and growing fan base in Europe, and could have a team there within five years.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on NFL Network that the league has had such success with its games in London that there’s no reason a franchise couldn’t call London home soon. Goodell did not say whether it would be an expansion franchise or an existing franchise moving across the pond, but he said he sees it happening soon.

“We couldn’t be happier with what we’re seeing,” Goodell said. “We actually couldn’t be more surprised by the tremendous demand for NFL football in London, in the UK in general, and frankly in Europe. So it’s not something that I think is 15 or 20 years away. It could be five or 10 years away.”

The NFL began playing preseason games overseas in 1986, but Goodell says it was the switch to regular season games in London in 2007 that laid the groundwork for having a team in London some day.

“The fans want to see more NFL football, and they want to see the real thing,” Goodell said. “They don’t want to see the ‘friendlies’ as they call them over there, which is preseason games. So we changed our strategy eight years ago and said, ‘Let’s play regular season games.’ And our clubs have responded very favorably. They’ve enjoyed the experience. So we’re anxious to do more of it. I see us continuing to play more games there, to focus on our television coverage there and expanding that, our other business efforts including licensing and sponsorship.”

It sounds like the NFL will have a team in London just as soon as the league can be convinced that team will be profitable. And Goodell thinks that’s in as soon as five years.

 

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/26/world/europe/poland-embraces-football-that-has-a-rougher-side.html?_r=0

Poland Embraces Football That Has a Rougher Side

WARSAW — Piotr Zaremba pounded the bass drum slung from his neck with utter absorption while leading the chant, in English: “Let’s go, Eagles, let’s go!”

Mr. Zaremba, 26, who works for a children’s animation company, explained later that when the Warsaw Eagles are on the field he simply cannot be distracted. “American football is a religion to me,” he said.

Religion is not a word that is tossed around lightly in Poland, and Mr. Zaremba really seems to mean it. As a founder of the Eagle’s Nest, the official fan club for one of the top teams in thePolish American Football League, he is at the epicenter of what has become, somewhat improbably, one of this country’s fastest growing sports.

The relationship between the United States and Poland is a complex and emotional one, and among the ways to view it these days is through the prism of full-contact football.

What began in 1999 in a Warsaw park with five high school friends tossing around a football that one of them brought back from America became a registered league in 2006 with four founding teams. And it has now grown into a network of more than 70 teams in 36 cities across Poland drawing tens of thousands of fans. The climax of the season, the championship game popularly known as the Polish Bowl — though the league prefers Super Final — is played in the country’s huge National Stadium before more than 20,000 fans and is telecast across Europe.

“America’s popularity in Poland is fluctuating up and down,” said Jedrzej Steszewski, 36, the president of the league and one of the high school friends who started it all in 1999. “And now, it’s a little down. So we don’t connect our promotions to America.”

Although there are myriad signs of America’s popularity here, from “American-style” burger joints to Stars and Stripes logos on T-shirts and backpacks, Poland is also fiercely nationalistic and a bit wary of embracing something born abroad.

“On the one side, people are saying that America is great, so that helps us,” said Jacek Sledzinski, the Eagles’ general manager. “But a lot of people are saying, well, it’s American, not Polish. Why can’t we play Polish sports? So it’s a mixed bag,”

The league has tried, with limited success, to point out to Poles that basketball, which is popular here, is also American. “And volleyball is practically the national sport in Poland, yet no one seems to realize that it, too, was invented in America,” he said sadly.

A recent game between the Eagles and the Poznan Goats, played under a glowering sky of low, dark clouds and occasional bursts of fat raindrops, began with a pair of Harley Davidsons roaring onto the track at Polonia Stadium, the Eagles’ home field. On the back of one cycle sat a very tall and very blond cheerleader, waving happily, on the other a man in an Eagle costume, the league’s first team mascot.

Mr. Zaremba banged away as the Eagles poured onto field. His sister, Madga Zaremba, 24, watched nearby. She is dating one of the Eagles players, and tried to explain her attraction to the American sport.

“It is about strength and it is about domination,” Ms. Zaremba said, a hard glint in her eye. “There is no place for cowardice in American football.”

Mr. Steszewski also likes to contrast the purity of American football, where you either make the play or you don’t, to the whining and fake injuries he sees in soccer.

“The numbers of our fans are getting bigger and bigger each year,” he said. “And this is because there is no flimflam or trickery, no yellow cards. It’s a tough sport. It’s real. That is what our fans like.”

Paul Kusmierz, 44, an American-born shopping mall developer who moved to Poland in 1994 and who is the Eagles’ chief corporate sponsor, says there is a physical reason for football’s popularity that Poles do not immediately mention.

“A lot of these Polish guys, let’s face it, are not built for soccer,” he said. “They’re big guys. But they want to be athletes, too, and this is a sport that they can play.”

The most popular Polish sports — like volleyball — tend to avoid physical contact, he said, but Poles have discovered through American football that they like the rougher play.

“It’s kind of like gladiators, you know,” he said. “The shoulder pads, the controlled violence. Once players get a taste of the contact, they find they love it.”

At the same time, rowdiness in the stands is strictly forbidden. “Our attitude is, if people want to fight, suit ’em up and put ’em on the field and we’ll see how they do,” Mr. Kusmierz said.

Indeed, much of the popularity of the game in Poland seems to be linked to the decision — initiated by the Eagles nearly four years ago and now copied by the other top teams — to turn football games into family events.

“The Eagles were playing in a small stadium and drawing 250 people to games, but we thought, you know, there are no family-oriented sports in Poland,” Mr. Kusmierz said. “So we got jumping castles and cotton candy stands, and people started to bring their families. We hired a Ferris wheel for the first game last season and got 2,000 fans.”

At the game against the Goats, besides a bouncy castle, there was an inflatable sliding board, a giant dinosaur, a Starbucks tent, a bubble tea concession, a very popular burger van, a kielbasa grill, a small beer garden beyond the end zone and a “Zibi & Steczki” (steak and potatoes) stand run by the Harley guys.

“We also encourage picnicking,” Mr. Steszewski said. “Of course, we are not up to the standards of American tailgating.”

There is not much money in the sport, for anyone. Only a few of the top players and coaches on the top teams are paid. Everyone else has to pay dues to play, to create a fund for equipment, field rental and travel to away games.

Still, the sport draws Poles from every walk of life. “We have everyone,” said Roman Iwanski, president of the Eagles, as he swatted away huge swarms of mosquitoes at a late night practice in northern Warsaw. “People from all walks of life, from unemployed to doctors and lawyers.”

Mr. Sledzinski chronicled the sport’s recent explosive popularity.

“In 2006, when we formed the league, there were four teams,” he said. “The second year, there were nine teams. Then 17, 22, 35 and now more than 70.”

The first of two crucial turning points came in 2009, when a team first hired an American player to come to Poland. Now, all the top teams have at least one American player, usually a college athlete who didn’t make it into the N.F.L., and it has raised the level of play considerably. Then, in 2012, the championship game was one of the first events held in Warsaw’s new National Stadium, drawing a curious crowd of 23,000 and giving the sport a burst of publicity.

The roster of teams now includes eight so-called top teams, like the Eagles, and 10 Division 1 teams, 22 Division 2 teams and dozens more junior league and indoor arena football teams. There is even one all-women’s team, the Warsaw Sirens.

“Our colors are pink and black,” said Kamila Glowacz, 29, the team’s president. “You know, because we’re girls.”

The team got started when some of the women visited America and happened to see a game. “Many men told us we should go to the kitchen, not to the field,” she said. “But women, you know, we do what we want to do.”

As far as Mr. Steszewski is concerned, his league would be better off if Polish players and fans did not have to refer to the game as “American” football.

“Frankly, at some point, we would love to just call it football,” he said, “Except for the problem that this is what soccer is called.”

Looks like there is another natural place for them to go.

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