The NFL regular season has not even played a down on European soil yet and they’re already talking about making a comeback. Peter King reports that the Kansas City Chiefs are likely the next team to host a game overseas, this time in Germany. “Look for Kansas City to play in Germany against a still-to-be-determined foe — probably in 2008,” King wrote yesterday in his on-line Monday Morning Quarterback column. “My guess is the opponent will be Buffalo, one of the non-division foes the Chiefs are slated to play at home in 2008, but we’ll see.”
If you recall, Buffalo was among one of the teams thought to be playing in London next season when the idea was first proposed. The Giants and Dolphins, however, were selected to participate. My concern is not with the Bills being among the teams that might go overseas (it’s likely that all teams will play in another country at some point in the near future). It’s with the whole international idea as a whole.
Most local businesses, in all NFL cities, thrive on the extra traffic on Sunday game days. Take away a home game from a team, and hard-working people are losing money. Football is not like the other Big Four sports in that there aren’t 40+ home games. In the NFL, you get eight games at home, and if your team has a very good year, you might be lucky to have one or two more. Take a home team overseas for a regular season game and people in that city suffer.
So why are they doing this? Roger Goodell and his team of suits can tell us all they want about promoting the game, but it’s all about the bottom line. As King writes, the Dolphins-Giants game sold out in 90 minutes. The Germany game will certainly be a hot ticket, as well. The Germans love the NFL almost as much as they love The ’Hoff. All but one of the teams in NFL Europe..errr…NFL Europa are located in Germany. So it’s a guaranteed financial success going back.
And it’s that bottom line that the NFL cares most about. We in Buffalo have seen firsthand that fans are secondary with the league’s blackout rules. It doesn’t matter to them if a city is left in the dark because they have plenty of other cities salivating for a team and still have enough big money sponsors and other TV deals to keep their pockets lined. Money is all that matters to the NFL and the international games are another example of this. An entire city will be left empty here, but if it means that the NFL can attract new partners in their multi-billion dollar operation, then, in their eyes, they have succeeded. It sucks for the fans and that city’s economy that they will lose a home game, but it would be a shock to me if the NFL really even cared.