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NFL looks to England and Olympics while struggling for global traction

nfllogo051110_optBY EVAN WEINER

(St. George’s, Grenada) -- National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell is looking for ways to globalize the American game. The NFL is attempting to establish a stronghold in England with an annual game in London and also by giving the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise exclusive marketing rights in the UK. The league might also have an interest in getting a long term lease at London Olympics stadium, which has been closed for renovations.

Goodell also has expressed, on behalf of his owners, a desire to see American football included in the Summer Olympics despite the fact that only one country --America-- plays American football on a high level. Goodell contends more than 60 countries play a version of American football but other than a stray Canadian and a handful of others virtually everyone who enters the NFL is an American.

American football just doesn’t have any traction in countries in the Western Hemisphere other than American and Canada although there seems to be some interest in the game in Mexico. There doesn’t seem to be American football on two of the American Virgin Islands – St. Croix and St. Thomas. In fact, one baseball field in St. Croix is in really poor shape and could use some help from a sports league to clean up the grounds.

The NFL didn’t seem to be much of a big deal on St. Croix on Sunday as the beach was a far bigger draw than sitting in front of a TV on the American-owned Caribbean Island.

A recent trip to three southern Caribbean islands, St. Kitts, Dominica and Grenada found almost no interest in the National Football League. There are football fields in Basseterre, St. Kitts, Rousseau, Dominica and St. George’s, Grenada but the local games are the international version of football and cricket. In Grenada, there are billboards saluting the country’s 2012 London Olympics gold medal winner, the 20-year-old Kirani James who won the 400 meters race. The Olympics are a big deal in countries like Grenada. Kirani James will have a stadium named after him and the country honored him after the Olympics by giving every worker in the country a half day off. Sept. 1, Jones’s birthday, will become a national holiday and he will be honored on a postal stamp.

At the fort in the middle of St. George’s where the 1983 revolution Grenada, the local police academy has a basketball court along with a gym and on top of the hill you can look out and see a school with a huge grass spots facility. It features a football field, but it is not the American gridiron. Rather, it is an international football field.

Grenada was one of eight Caribbean countries to host the 2007 Cricket World Cup. The NFL schedules games outside of the United States in just two countries, Canada and England. The Canadian game is played in Toronto which is about 90 minutes from Buffalo as part of a Buffalo Bills ownership deal with Toronto promoters.

No wonder Goodell wants a piece of the Olympics. The NFL will not get a global look in 2016 like rugby or golf at the Rio Summer Games. The NFL never gets much of a global glance except in London. Similarly, the NFL has never been able to figure out how to stage a game in China. The last time the NFL scheduled a game in Beijing was in 2007 which was to have coincide with the 365 day countdown to the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The game never took place. The NFL has never clearly explained why the league failed in Beijing. The NFL-backed troika of the World League of American Football, NFL Europe and NFL Europa was a financial failure. American colleges have played some games internationally with Notre Dame-Navy playing earlier this year in Dublin, Ireland.

The National Football League is losing world class athletes to other sports globally. As long ago as 2006, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowen said the league was trying to find markets outside of Toronto that would fit into the NFL’s international expansion plans. The league wanted to make Beijing an NFL destination spot but at the Orlando spring meetings there was one owner who really wondered about China and the NFL.

The New York Jets Woody Johnson said that one of the reasons the NFL might not work in China was because “China doesn’t have enough big people.” That though doesn’t seem to be the problem. A lack of interest in American football is the main problem. The NFL is not the National Basketball Association which is extremely popular in China. New England Patriots owners Robert Kraft’s team was supposed to have played in that Beijing game.

Comments (2)
2 Tuesday, 27 November 2012 16:33
George Visger
I guess the NFL just figures with all the brain damaged former players like myself, they need to locate new pastures to cull potential players from. Preferably areas which are not privy to the brain damage litigation attention the NFL is under.

Channel 13 News Sacramento 10/29/12 Terry Tuatolo interview

George Visger
SF 49ers 80 & 81
Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits
1 Monday, 26 November 2012 13:57
Evan -

The Law of Unintended Consequences will likely come into play here with the globalization of the NFL. If it was that simple, the NFL probably would have merged or acquired the CFL by now. But considering their current looming headache with all the concussion lawsuits that continue to grow by the day, one has to look deeper at why they'll need to fix their house before moving on to other pastures.

In talking to many NFL players who either went on to finish their careers in the CFL or simply found it a better system, it was made clear to me that the Canadian system does have many advantages over the NFL. While the CFL pays nowhere near the ridiculous salaries that the NFL has been paying every year, the other benefits are an open secret among those in the know. Having socialized medicine is one distinct advantage. While not perfect, the Canadian Health Care system provides basic care and benefits to all who qualify as employees to one more big Canadian company that actually pays their fair share into the entire system. I've heard some very interesting personal stories from American players who ended up injured while playing in the CFL and most of them have been really positive as a whole. It may be worth your time to do some of your own investigative digging into this interesting side story; I suspect it may well interest your readers in general and football fans in particular. A good place to start might be with the CFL Alumni.

Why do I point this out? Well, as more and more people are beginning to realize, the NFL has been running its own sham Pension and Disability Plan which was actually put together by its lawyers and manages to approve only fewer than 5% of those who actually get through their Byzantine process to apply for their benefits; the worst possible outcome for its former employees in what is probably the most physically brutal occupation in America. And because of this, it leaves the NFL and its owners with a larger pot of money each passing year with which to continue paying ever-increasing salaries to its newer players. And of course, the so-called Union - the NFLPA - stands by with their thumbs up their collective butts because it wants their active players to make those huge salaries. It's the active players who then pay huge annual membership dues to their Union. So the management has no use for the thousands of retired players who continue to pay their annual $100 dues for nothing much more than a fancy membership card and a few side benefits that are nothing more than what the AARP could offer for $15 a year.

Until they can finally sort out this no-win PR nightmare, one has to ponder this question: Ya think the NFL can actually enter into the European (or Chinese) markets which have socialized healthcare for all while they continue to avoid not only paying their fair share but continue to go out of their way to ensure that their injured retirees are foisted on to the backs of those who are actually paying for this system? Somehow I don't think they can do as convincing a job with the socialized Europeans and Chinese as they've gotten away with for so long with an ignorant and uncaring fan base here in America...

P.S. - Someone should be moderating these comments so that SPAM crap doesn't take over this section from idiots offering everything from jerseys to Viagra!

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