The future of the NFL internationally

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Just read this from Neil Reynolds, long-time presenter of Sky's NFL coverage over here in the UK:
In the days leading up to the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, I got to spend time with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell... Goodell explained to me that representatives from three new markets were in London to see how things were done with the view to the NFL exploring new venues for games, "as soon as next year."

Madrid in Spain and both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil have reportedly been investigated as potential venues for a regular season game in the coming years. That, to me, is a very exciting development and it feels like the success of London and Germany has accelerated proceedings beyond what was previously expected.

The NFL moved fast in Germany, hopping from one game to two in the space of one year and there is a very real possibility of the league resembling a Formula One-style calendar in the not-too-distant future. London, Munich, Frankfurt, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and who knows where after that? Dublin, Paris, Rome?

The reason for such ambition is because of the foundations that have been very firmly laid in London. The continued success, year after year, of regular season games in the UK emboldened the league to venture to Germany in 2022. And in 2023 a total of 1.5 million fans registered to buy tickets for the games in the UK and Germany. So, the continued interest in and success of those two markets now takes us to this point… further expansion of regular season games being played around the globe.

And we should not be worried on these shores by the playing of more games elsewhere. Commissioner Goodell was keen to point out that the UK will have their games (two at Tottenham and a Jags game at Wembley), as will Germany. But they are determined to become even more of a global entity and that puts Spain and Brazil in the crosshairs.

While the continued playing of regular season games featuring multiple teams is one course of action, the London franchise discussion was also had over the weekend. The Commissioner talked through one particular hypothetical that featured two London teams and even a Super Bowl in the UK, while Jaguars owner Shad Khan stressed that he would be open to continuing the back-to-back playing of regular season games for his team in the capital.

Whether it be a London franchise, a European division (an idea the Commissioner acknowledged in 2022 and one which was raised again last night by Peter King) or the playing of games in multiple countries around the world; there is no denying the fact that we are living through historic times in the NFL.

Full article: https://www.nfl.com/news/neil-reynolds-wraps-week
I sat next to a chap from Brazil during the game and he said there were rumours of a game being played over there perhaps as early as next year, although he reckoned it would more likely be in 2 or 3 years time.

I still think a London franchise (let along two!) is a daft idea. Fair play to the Jaguars for growing their fan base in the UK by coming over every year for the past decade, but most UK fans continue to support other teams. We're a very tribal bunch; once we pick a team we follow them for life and won't switch allegiance just because a new team sets up in our home town/city. When the Jaguars first came over I saw a grand total of 3 fans in Jags jerseys at the game. Now there are thousands. That's because new fans have chosen to follow them, which makes sense knowing they're going to get to see them play every year. They haven't converted any long-term NFL fans though.

Two things stood out this year. Before the Wembley game, in the 'Jungle' area outside the stadium set aside for fans, there was a DJ. At one point he asked fans from London to cheer and got a very quiet response. He then asked fans from outside London to cheer and got a much louder response. Finally he asked Jaguars fans to cheer and got a similar response. In other words the majority of both NFL and Jaguars fans who attend games do not live in London. They travel, often from quite far away, to see a game. I chatted with a couple on the Tube on the way to the game and they'd come all the way from Wales to attend their first ever game, a journey of about 150 miles. A fellow Bears fan who I often bump into at games travels 200 miles from Devon and spends the weekend in London. They are unlikely to be able to, couldn't afford to (especially given the massive price hikes in recent years) or just wouldn't be interested enough to do that for 8 regular season games to support a franchise. I don't think the NFL really understands this. Pre-game activities have become increasingly London-centric in recent years. There used to be tons happening on game-day to entertain fans before the stadium opened whereas now there are events spread across the week which only London-based fans can attend.

Which brings me to the second thing that stood out. Despite the Jaguars playing back-to-back games in London this year, a first for a team, there were nowhere near as many Jags fans at Tottenham for the second game against the Bills as I'd assumed there would be. Now Tottenham Stadium holds around 24, 000 fewer fans than Wembley and tickets are consequently more difficult to get hold of, but I was expecting the Jags to be much better represented than they were. I thought a lot of Jaguars fans who went to the Wembley game would be at Tottenham too, but instead the Bills supporters vastly outnumbered them. There didn't seem to be that many more Jaguars fans than those of lots of other teams. This made me wonder whether the majority of their supporters are really just interested in the novelty of going to one game a year.

I still believe the best strategy for the NFL is to make the 17th game into a neutral venue game for all 32 teams, which would allow them to play 16 games overseas each year and try out different locations. US fans would get their full slate of 8 home games a season, international fans all over the world would get an opportunity to enjoy the experience of an NFL game and the NFL would grow its fanbase. If a location doesn't attract sufficient interest then the NFL can simply try a new location the following year.

One final observation, last Saturday I went to the NFL Experience at Battersea Power Station (Pink Floyd fans on this board will know it - it's the building on the cover of the Animals album with the pig flying over it) and saw Reynolds interview Goodell. You'll be pleased to know that Goodell still gets booed by UK fans, a tradition started by Patriots fans following Brady's suspension over the 'deflate-gate' incident.
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HisRoyalSweetness wrote: Wed Oct 11, 2023 11:04 pm Just read this from Neil Reynolds, long-time presenter of Sky's NFL coverage over here in the UK:
In the days leading up to the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, I got to spend time with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell... Goodell explained to me that representatives from three new markets were in London to see how things were done with the view to the NFL exploring new venues for games, "as soon as next year."

Madrid in Spain and both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil have reportedly been investigated as potential venues for a regular season game in the coming years. That, to me, is a very exciting development and it feels like the success of London and Germany has accelerated proceedings beyond what was previously expected.

The NFL moved fast in Germany, hopping from one game to two in the space of one year and there is a very real possibility of the league resembling a Formula One-style calendar in the not-too-distant future. London, Munich, Frankfurt, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and who knows where after that? Dublin, Paris, Rome?

The reason for such ambition is because of the foundations that have been very firmly laid in London. The continued success, year after year, of regular season games in the UK emboldened the league to venture to Germany in 2022. And in 2023 a total of 1.5 million fans registered to buy tickets for the games in the UK and Germany. So, the continued interest in and success of those two markets now takes us to this point… further expansion of regular season games being played around the globe.

And we should not be worried on these shores by the playing of more games elsewhere. Commissioner Goodell was keen to point out that the UK will have their games (two at Tottenham and a Jags game at Wembley), as will Germany. But they are determined to become even more of a global entity and that puts Spain and Brazil in the crosshairs.

While the continued playing of regular season games featuring multiple teams is one course of action, the London franchise discussion was also had over the weekend. The Commissioner talked through one particular hypothetical that featured two London teams and even a Super Bowl in the UK, while Jaguars owner Shad Khan stressed that he would be open to continuing the back-to-back playing of regular season games for his team in the capital.

Whether it be a London franchise, a European division (an idea the Commissioner acknowledged in 2022 and one which was raised again last night by Peter King) or the playing of games in multiple countries around the world; there is no denying the fact that we are living through historic times in the NFL.

Full article: https://www.nfl.com/news/neil-reynolds-wraps-week
I sat next to a chap from Brazil during the game and he said there were rumours of a game being played over there perhaps as early as next year, although he reckoned it would more likely be in 2 or 3 years time.

I still think a London franchise (let along two!) is a daft idea. Fair play to the Jaguars for growing their fan base in the UK by coming over every year for the past decade, but most UK fans continue to support other teams. We're a very tribal bunch; once we pick a team we follow them for life and won't switch allegiance just because a new team sets up in our home town/city. When the Jaguars first came over I saw a grand total of 3 fans in Jags jerseys at the game. Now there are thousands. That's because new fans have chosen to follow them, which makes sense knowing they're going to get to see them play every year. They haven't converted any long-term NFL fans though.

Two things stood out this year. Before the Wembley game, in the 'Jungle' area outside the stadium set aside for fans, there was a DJ. At one point he asked fans from London to cheer and got a very quiet response. He then asked fans from outside London to cheer and got a much louder response. Finally he asked Jaguars fans to cheer and got a similar response. In other words the majority of both NFL and Jaguars fans who attend games do not live in London. They travel, often from quite far away, to see a game. I chatted with a couple on the Tube on the way to the game and they'd come all the way from Wales to attend their first ever game, a journey of about 150 miles. A fellow Bears fan who I often bump into at games travels 200 miles from Devon and spends the weekend in London. They are unlikely to be able to, couldn't afford to (especially given the massive price hikes in recent years) or just wouldn't be interested enough to do that for 8 regular season games to support a franchise. I don't think the NFL really understands this. Pre-game activities have become increasingly London-centric in recent years. There used to be tons happening on game-day to entertain fans before the stadium opened whereas now there are events spread across the week which only London-based fans can attend.

Which brings me to the second thing that stood out. Despite the Jaguars playing back-to-back games in London this year, a first for a team, there were nowhere near as many Jags fans at Tottenham for the second game against the Bills as I'd assumed there would be. Now Tottenham Stadium holds around 24, 000 fewer fans than Wembley and tickets are consequently more difficult to get hold of, but I was expecting the Jags to be much better represented than they were. I thought a lot of Jaguars fans who went to the Wembley game would be at Tottenham too, but instead the Bills supporters vastly outnumbered them. There didn't seem to be that many more Jaguars fans than those of lots of other teams. This made me wonder whether the majority of their supporters are really just interested in the novelty of going to one game a year.

I still believe the best strategy for the NFL is to make the 17th game into a neutral venue game for all 32 teams, which would allow them to play 16 games overseas each year and try out different locations. US fans would get their full slate of 8 home games a season, international fans all over the world would get an opportunity to enjoy the experience of an NFL game and the NFL would grow its fanbase. If a location doesn't attract sufficient interest then the NFL can simply try a new location the following year.

One final observation, last Saturday I went to the NFL Experience at Battersea Power Station (Pink Floyd fans on this board will know it - it's the building on the cover of the Animals album with the pig flying over it) and saw Reynolds interview Goodell. You'll be pleased to know that Goodell still gets booed by UK fans, a tradition started by Patriots fans following Brady's suspension over the 'deflate-gate' incident.
Week 1 may be better for this than Week 17. I'd hate to see a playoff determining game be played overseas, the long travel and time change does seem to randomly have negative affects on some teams. The Bills didn't look right at all last week.
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It should be mid season, and the teams involved should have a bye week immediately or shortly after
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Ditka’s dictaphone wrote: Thu Oct 12, 2023 8:33 am It should be mid season, and the teams involved should have a bye week immediately or shortly after
Yeah, have 2 overseas games a week during the middle 8 weeks of the season with teams having their bye week straight after.
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I don't think there's going to be any intercontinental franchises. I could see Canada and maybe Mexico City, MAYBE, but I don't think many non-American cities would ever support an NFL franchise with the necessary fervor to endure. The league would make a shitload of money initially, but it would come at great expense and open up the NFL to some really dicey situations as far as corruption and global politics goes.

If they want to try some NFL Europe type crap again, fine, but honestly I'd rather they invest in the XFL/USFL merged spring league and make that another revenue source/standard sports institution.
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UOK wrote: Thu Oct 12, 2023 11:14 am If they want to try some NFL Europe type crap again, fine, but honestly I'd rather they invest in the XFL/USFL merged spring league and make that another revenue source/standard sports institution.
An old article but a good one:
10 years after NFL Europe's demise, alumni remember league fondly

https://www.espn.co.uk/nfl/story/_/id/1 ... gue-fondly
It's worth remembering some pretty big names played in that league including the likes of Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson, Jake Delhomme, Adam Vinatieri and Dante Hall.
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Not exactly the future of the NFL internationally, but perhaps the future of the sport internationally:
NFL stars could get chance to play flag football at 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles
...

NFL executive Peter O’Reilly said Tuesday the league will work with the players’ union on allowing current and former players to participate after flag football was among five sports officially added to the 2028 Los Angeles Games by the International Olympic Committee.

“It is the pinnacle of sport globally,” O’Reilly said at the league meetings. “Ultimately, that decision on the makeup of Team USA is a decision of USA Football and the national governing body or the governing bodies around the world in similar roles because we are thinking about Team USA, but there are also a lot of other passports in the NFL — 113 foreign-born players on NFL rosters as of Week 5.

“So, that opportunity for athletes to represent their countries, we understand the desire, what they have spoken out about and what we will continue to do is work with the players, (NFL) Players Association and the clubs in the time ahead to determine the process and then work with USA Football and IFAF on that.”
...

The NFL has worked hard to promote flag football and pushed for its inclusion in the Olympics...

“We’re committed to growing flag football around the world,” O’Reilly said. “The Olympic decision accelerates that. We do see it as a long-term commitment as we move forward. And it’s not just about 2028 and that July, it’s about the next four years and how we, our clubs, IFAF take advantage of that opportunity to really grow this game, allow more girls and boys around the world to get a ball in their hands, get a flag belt on, and grow what we’re doing.”

Full article: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2023/10/17 ... os-angeles
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HisRoyalSweetness wrote: Wed Oct 18, 2023 12:14 am Not exactly the future of the NFL internationally, but perhaps the future of the sport internationally:
NFL stars could get chance to play flag football at 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles
...

NFL executive Peter O’Reilly said Tuesday the league will work with the players’ union on allowing current and former players to participate after flag football was among five sports officially added to the 2028 Los Angeles Games by the International Olympic Committee.

“It is the pinnacle of sport globally,” O’Reilly said at the league meetings. “Ultimately, that decision on the makeup of Team USA is a decision of USA Football and the national governing body or the governing bodies around the world in similar roles because we are thinking about Team USA, but there are also a lot of other passports in the NFL — 113 foreign-born players on NFL rosters as of Week 5.

“So, that opportunity for athletes to represent their countries, we understand the desire, what they have spoken out about and what we will continue to do is work with the players, (NFL) Players Association and the clubs in the time ahead to determine the process and then work with USA Football and IFAF on that.”
...

The NFL has worked hard to promote flag football and pushed for its inclusion in the Olympics...

“We’re committed to growing flag football around the world,” O’Reilly said. “The Olympic decision accelerates that. We do see it as a long-term commitment as we move forward. And it’s not just about 2028 and that July, it’s about the next four years and how we, our clubs, IFAF take advantage of that opportunity to really grow this game, allow more girls and boys around the world to get a ball in their hands, get a flag belt on, and grow what we’re doing.”

Full article: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2023/10/17 ... os-angeles
Would be really interesting to see if flag football took off on an international level. It would be a much less intense game, obviously, but still compelling to see it played on an earnest tier of competition for legitimate gold.
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No idea what flag football is. Do you use a flag instead of a ball?
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Ditka’s dictaphone wrote: Wed Oct 18, 2023 9:15 am No idea what flag football is. Do you use a flag instead of a ball?
It's the same principle as Tag Rugby DD.
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The NFL is going to Brazil in 2024; could Bears go overseas?

Owners voted Wednesday to add a game in São Paulo in 2024, marking the fifth continent in which the NFL has played. The NFL will play three games in London again next year and one in Munich.

The league will expand to eight international games in 2025.

With the exception of the AFC’s Jaguars, who have a London partnership, the NFL is likely to send NFC home games abroad next year. The NFC, which includes the Bears, has nine 2024 home games; the AFC has eight.

Bears kicker Cairo Santos is the NFL’s only Brazilian player ever — he was born an hour from São Paulo. He said he’d love to contact the NFL to lobby for the Bears — and joked that if it’s another team he’d ask coach Matt Eberflus “to give me a day off” so he could go himself.

The Bears were assigned the United Kingdom and Spain as international home market areas two years ago, allowing them to sell sponsorships there. Spain was a candidate for 2024 but was not added. The Bears could still land in any of the three countries.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/bears/2023 ... o-overseas
I'm surprised Germany is only getting one game next year having had two this year.

I can see the Santos angle being a reason for sending the Bears to Brazil, but I'm going to be mightily annoyed if they don't return to the UK given they're one of the teams with the "international home market" designation. A Bears vs 49ers game would be perfect and they're due to play each other next year. There are lots of fans of those teams dating back to the 1980s and the 49ers also have an "international home market" designation for the UK.
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George McCaskey continues push to keep Bears’ home games from going international
By Jason Lieser

The Bears were the only team to vote against the NFL’s new proposal to expand international play. The new measure, which passed Wednesday, set the league up to play eight international games starting in 2025.

One detail of that resolution is that teams can block only two of their home games from being moved, as opposed to the current four.

In explaining his vote against it, McCaskey touted the Bears’ opportunity to host “generational talents,” CBS Sports reported, citing a source in the room in Irving, Texas, and listed Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts — and Giants upstart Tommy Devito, the former University of Illinois quarterback who has started four games.

McCaskey’s joke was, in part, a jab at Giants owner John Mara, a close friend of his.

But he was not kidding about the policy. McCaskey has been adamant about keeping the Bears off the television show “Hard Knocks” and minimizing how many home games they lose to international play.

Next season, the league is playing three games in London, one in Munich and one in Sao Paulo. The Jaguars will play one of their home games in London, but the other four international games will be pulled from NFC teams’ home games.

The Bears have played in London twice, but both games would’ve been on the road anyway.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/bears/2023 ... nal-series
I'm struggling to understand McCaskey's stance on this. Soldier Field is the smallest NFL stadium and the Bears have yet to play a single "home game" overseas despite the IS games dating back to 2007 and totalling 44 games to date. The expansion to a 17 game season with an extra home game every other year means teams still have the 8 home games they had with a 16 game season (except the Jaguars who have chosen to play a home game in London every year).

London has been at the forefront of the IS games and the Bears were one of the teams selected to have the UK designated as an International Home Marketing Area for 5 years starting in 2022 based on proposals the team itself submitted. You would think they would want to maximise the benefits that brings by actually playing in the UK during that period.

Giving up one home game of 9 in one season every few years shouldn't be objectionable to the team. From a financial perspective it should benefit the Bears directly and the increase in the number of IS games in general should benefit them via the NFL generally. With the expansion to 8 games it seems clear the direction of travel is for every team to play the 17th game overseas eventually. They'll already be halfway to achieving that in 2025.

McCaskey is clearly out-of-step with the rest of the league on this.
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HisRoyalSweetness wrote: Thu Dec 14, 2023 5:33 pm
George McCaskey continues push to keep Bears’ home games from going international
By Jason Lieser

The Bears were the only team to vote against the NFL’s new proposal to expand international play. The new measure, which passed Wednesday, set the league up to play eight international games starting in 2025.

One detail of that resolution is that teams can block only two of their home games from being moved, as opposed to the current four.

In explaining his vote against it, McCaskey touted the Bears’ opportunity to host “generational talents,” CBS Sports reported, citing a source in the room in Irving, Texas, and listed Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts — and Giants upstart Tommy Devito, the former University of Illinois quarterback who has started four games.

McCaskey’s joke was, in part, a jab at Giants owner John Mara, a close friend of his.

But he was not kidding about the policy. McCaskey has been adamant about keeping the Bears off the television show “Hard Knocks” and minimizing how many home games they lose to international play.

Next season, the league is playing three games in London, one in Munich and one in Sao Paulo. The Jaguars will play one of their home games in London, but the other four international games will be pulled from NFC teams’ home games.

The Bears have played in London twice, but both games would’ve been on the road anyway.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/bears/2023 ... nal-series
I'm struggling to understand McCaskey's stance on this. Soldier Field is the smallest NFL stadium and the Bears have yet to play a single "home game" overseas despite the IS games dating back to 2007 and totalling 44 games to date. The expansion to a 17 game season with an extra home game every other year means teams still have the 8 home games they had with a 16 game season (except the Jaguars who have chosen to play a home game in London every year).

London has been at the forefront of the IS games and the Bears were one of the teams selected to have the UK designated as an International Home Marketing Area for 5 years starting in 2022 based on proposals the team itself submitted. You would think they would want to maximise the benefits that brings by actually playing in the UK during that period.

Giving up one home game of 9 in one season every few years shouldn't be objectionable to the team. From a financial perspective it should benefit the Bears directly and the increase in the number of IS games in general should benefit them via the NFL generally. With the expansion to 8 games it seems clear the direction of travel is for every team to play the 17th game overseas eventually. They'll already be halfway to achieving that in 2025.

McCaskey is clearly out-of-step with the rest of the league on this.
Now that the season is 17 games, you can have 8 traditional home games, 8 traditional road games, and then 1 international game.

I don't want the Bears on Hard Knocks or any other show like that which could serve as a distraction.
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Ditka’s dictaphone wrote: Wed Oct 18, 2023 9:15 am No idea what flag football is. Do you use a flag instead of a ball?
It’s kind of like Eddie Jackson trying to tackle and he gets a penalty flag for sucking at it.
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guess I'll be the cranky old man in this discussion and say a solid FUCK YOU to Roger Goodell for his international game bullshit he continues to foster

if the NFL was serious about an international presence, they should have spent the time and resources to make NFL Europe a successful farm system ... the tagline almost writes itself - "come see the NFL stars of tomorrow today", and then highlighting the success stories of NFL Europe players moving up to the NFL ...but instead they simply bitched and moaned about real and imagined problems when they killed the league ... any real problems should have been action items for them to correct if they were truly interested in success

as for flag football, fun to play definitely but not 100% safe ... there was a rookie RB (name escapes me) who blew out a knee at a flag football game during the Pro Bowl festivities one year ... and it ended what promised to be an exciting career

I despise Goodell so much ... my hope is Jon Gruden's legal team is so good they bury Goodell so completely in court the NFL owners have no choice but to jettison him and he is found 5 years later, a drunken disgraced bum in an alley giving blow jobs for meal money :angry:
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If it makes you feel any better Boris13c it's a tradition to boo Goodell here in the UK every time he makes an appearance, one that continued this year when he put in an appearance at the NFL event at Battersea Power Station.
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Australia among countries NFL scouting to host future international games
Associated Press

Australia is among the countries the NFL is scouting as potential hosts for regular-season games for the 2025 season and beyond.

Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's head of international affairs, said Tuesday at the league's spring meetings that Australia is among the markets being discussed. The league recently announced an NFL Academy will open in September on the Gold Coast in Australia.

"Australia is among a set, and it's not a small set of markets, that we're looking at," O'Reilly said.

O'Reilly noted Australia has a strong NFL fan base, media partners and that both the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams have global market rights there.

He updated NFL owners on the countries league officials are looking at as potential hosts. The NFL announced in February before the Super Bowl that the 2025 season's international slate of games will feature a game at Real Madrid's iconic Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The NFL has been expanding its international presence in recent years with owners voting in December to authorize the league to host eight games internationally each season. The league announced last week the four international games in London and Germany along with all of the 2024 schedule.

Philadelphia opens the season by facing the Green Bay Packers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sept. 6.

Dublin, Ireland, also is among the markets being considered for future NFL games. League officials will be visiting markets this summer as part of the process assessing fan support, stadiums and locations for teams to use leading up to a game.

O'Reilly said those details are only part of what the league considers in picking a host city.

"When you start to talk about Asia, Pacific and Australia, you talk about distance and logistics and the football component of that," O'Reilly said. "So those factors are real. But our role is to really look at the globe, look at where the fan base is strong and do the diligence, make the evaluations."

https://www.nfl.com/news/australia-amon ... onal-games
I'm sure the Bears new punter will be watching developments with interest.
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southdakbearfan wrote: Thu Dec 14, 2023 7:42 pm It’s kind of like Eddie Jackson trying to tackle and he gets a penalty flag for sucking at it.
:lol: :rofl:

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Apparently expansion to an 18 game season is still the NFL's aim.
Roger Goodell addresses potential 18-game schedule, private equity in ownership at Spring League Meeting

https://www.nfl.com/news/roger-goodell- ... ue-meeting
I don't know how that would affect the International games. It would certainly blow the idea of every team playing their 17th game in another country out of the water.
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