NFL should stop trips across the pond

The Cleveland Browns just finished playing in England on Oct. 28, so now is a great time to discuss the NFL’s experiment with teams playing in London. Our latest Beyond the Arc discusses the new trend. The conversation has been lightly edited.

Eddie Kerekes, Sports Editor: The NFL has greatly expanded its international presence over the past decade, and now there are multiple games across the pond every year. However, the players don’t seem to like it and fans miss out on one home game that season. Is the expanded international schedule good for the league? Is it worth the players’ resentments? Will there eventually be a football team in London? Is that even the NFL’s end goal? I have lots of questions and there seems to be no clear answers.

Andrew Ford, Staff Reporter: I don’t think there is a clear answer on whether the expanded international schedule is good or not. It does expand the game’s global popularity but at the cost of fans here in the United States. The NFL is going to do whatever generates the most money, and, apparently, that means more games in London. Personally, I feel like the number of games there is too high. It used to be a special occasion, but now it feels like every week there is a game across the pond.

I think it would be cool to see the NFL start a developmental league in England. Football is the only sport that lacks a league, and I believe the British Isles are the perfect place to start one. That way, the NFL doesn’t have to disappoint their fans and players at home while improving the quality of play. I doubt this will happen, though.

Shounak Bose, Web Editor: Personally, I don’t think it’s very fair to the players. Last year, well known Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune about how much he hates Thursday Night Football. Although, it’s a different topic, Sherman takes a lot of time to talk about the physical toll each week takes on the players and how much time it takes to recover. He then argues that if players are not rested properly, they are more likely to get injured, and games tend to be lopsided and not fun to watch.

International travel is exhausting. Teams have to fly anywhere from six to 10 hours depending on the location, and then adjust to a five to eight hour time difference. Although this varies significantly from person to person, it generally takes a day to fully adjust to each hour of time difference, and major changes tend to result in grogginess and exhaustion. And then, after all that effort for one game, the players have to go all the way back to the U.S. and readjust. Given what Sherman had to say, and the effort needed to fly overseas, I think it would be abusive to put a team in London and make it alternate between home and away games. Given how easy it is for players to get injured, and how many superstars are out for the season this year alone, I don’t think London is good for the long term future of the NFL.

Kerekes: Then what does the NFL do? They’ve invested far too much time and money into playing games in Europe to just pull out completely. (Of course, they probably said that about NFL Europe). Will we see a return of the Buffalo Bills to Toronto or something similar?

Ford: I think eventually the NFL will pull out of England. With the ratings drop due in part to too many game slots (Thursdays, Sunday mornings, afternoon, night, Monday night), it would make sense to eliminate at least one, and I predict they will eliminate the England games.

Sanjay Annigeri, Staff Reporter: I agree with Andrew. In a country with the English Premier League (the world’s real “football”), cricket and even rugby, NFL football, especially with mediocre teams slated to play, won’t create much buzz. The teams who have England assigned as their home field also feel slightly cheated, as the environment feels more like a neutral environment than their actual home stadiums.