Sunday, October 23, 2011

NFL In London

Yes, it's that time again.

Today was the annual NFL game played in London.  This year's game featured the Chicago Bears vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Bears won handily, Marion Barber and Roy Williams each scored touchdowns, and Josh Freeman --you know, the one Jimmy Johnson said Tony Romo should study because he's smart and makes good decisions-- well, he threw 4, yes 4, count 'em 4 interceptions.

But I digress...

In a pre-game interview, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell once again spouted his nonsense about having multiple games in London, and expressing his desire to have an NFL franchise permanently based there.

My answer to that is, in a word NO.

No, no, no!!

Europeans don't deserve an NFL franchise.  Why not?  Well, for several reasons, not the least of which is that for years we've had to listen to Europeans mock and ridicule our sport-- though if Goodell has his way, it'll soon become as sissified as they seem to think it is. 

They call our players wimps and wusses because they wear pads.  Well, the pads don't keep them from getting hurt.  They keep them from getting killed.  Just ask Joe Theismann.  Just ask Kevin Everitt.  Ask Jason Smith, who was carted off on a backboard during the Cowboys/Rams game today.  Heck, ask Sean Payton, who suffered a torn MCL and broken tibia standing on the sidelines last week. 

Europeans counter that rugby players don't wear pads, and they tackle, too.  Yeah, but I've watched rugby games.  They do tackle, but when they tackle, they wrestle the opponent to the ground.  They don't hit like an NFL player does.   

But even more important than that is that it would be too hard on the players themselves.  It's hard enough playing across two or three time zones.  Playing halfway around the world would be exhausting.  It would give a whole new meaning to the phrase "home field advantage".

Not only would they have to deal with a hostile environment, but the visiting team would have to come off a long flight -- and I mean from 8 to 16 hours long, depending whether it is an East Coast or a West Coast team -- and be dealing with jet lag on top of that. 

Now, for noon kickoffs this wouldn't be so bad, but a team cannot have every single game start at noon.  If a London based franchise were to ever play on Sunday, Monday, or Thursday nights at home, then the visiting team would be playing in what their body thinks is the middle of the night.  London is 6 hours ahead of New York, and 9 hours ahead of San Diego.

I don't care how athletic you are.  I don't care how good of shape you are in, there comes a point when your body says "it's time to go to bed."  Case in point-- a couple of years ago, LSU played their season opener in Washington state.  The game went on until after 1 AM central time.  By the 4th quarter, the Tigers were playing in a semi-zombified state.  They were slow.  They were sluggish.  They were tired.  And that was playing across just a two time zone difference.  Imagine a 6-9 hour time zone difference.

Finally, right now, a live NFL game in London is a novelty.  People travel from all over Europe to come see this one game.  Once the novelty wears off, would London be financially able to support an NFL franchise?  Would they be willing to financially support an NFL franchise?  My guess is no.  And what player would want to live in Europe, with their crippling taxes and sub par health care system?

Roger Goodell should leave the NFL in the USA.  That's where it started.

That's where it belongs. 

That's where it should stay.

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