Going Global

Posted: July 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 92 Comments »

Baseball used to be the national pastime. At some point in the 1980s or early 1990s, football passed it. I don’t have a long explanation for this. I’m just going off my personal experience. Heck, look no further than The Sporting News. That publication lived for baseball for decades, but slowly became football obsessed. The NFL Draft preview was one page by Mel Kiper in the mid-80s and 1/4 of the magazine by the mid-90s.

Football wasn’t about to stop with taking over America. It wanted more. The next step was to go global.

The NFL has done a variety of things to grow the game around the globe. There was NFL Europe. That was an interesting idea, but didn’t work as hoped. It was supposed to be a developmental league for the NFL and an introduction to pro football for our brothers and sisters in Europe. While NFLE did develop some players, it wasn’t as good as was hoped.

The quality of the football was bad. It was hard to watch, even for a person like me who is a serious die-hard. The atmosphere at the games was awkward, which didn’t help watching bad football. I can’t really speak to how successful the league was at creating European fans. The poor quality of the play may not have bothered them. It could be that the novelty of seeing the games in person was enough to build a fascination with the game.

The NFL played some preseason games in London as far back as the 1980s. I know the Bears and Cowboys were over there. There have been preseason games in Mexico and Japan. There are now annual regular season games in London and Toronto.

The Super Bowl is the NFL’s crown jewel and it has become an international event. The game has only been played in America, but it is broadcast in a variety of languages. Former Eagle TE Chad Lewis has done Chinese language broadcasts of the game (not sure if Mandarin, Cantonese or whatever other dialect is out there). The Super Bowl is now a week long event that brings in media from all over the world to experience it.

Marketing is huge. The Raiders were the first team with a multi-lingual website that I recall. That was smart. The NFL has Cecil Martin doing some interesting things in the UK to help grow the game. He works with football teams over there to help teach the game and get people excited about it. He also does broadcasting.

Football players can be great ambassadors for the game. Matt Barkley went on a mission to Nigeria a few years back. New Eagles ILB Emmanuel Acho is over in Africa this summer.

Those kids will be Eagles fans. Free t-shirts can have tremendous influence on kids. I’m sure there are other Eagles players and coaches taking international vacations this summer. They’ll help spread the word, even if it is just one person at a time.

One of the best ways to grow the game is to have international players. Last year in the draft we had Ziggy Ansah, Bjoern Werner and Margus Hunt as highly rated prospects. Ansah is from Ghana, Werner from Germany and Hunt from Estonia. Menelik Watson is from the UK and is another highly rated guy. All three were big athletes. They were from other countries, but were born to play football. The Eagles have Nic Purcell from New Zealand. Australia has put out a string of punters.

These players aren’t a big deal to US fans, but I’m sure Ghana will talk about the NFL more than ever due to Ansah. The same is true of Estonia and Hunt and Germany and Werner. Kids will see the stories and some will develop an interest in playing football over soccer, rugby, cricket or whatever the local game of choice is.

The NFL is obsessed with athletes. If you can’t find enough great athletes in the US, go look elsewhere. Look at the impact that foreign players have had on the NBA.

I don’t think football will ever be as international as basketball. 20 guys make two teams in basketball. That isn’t even a starting lineup in football. Just the sheer volume of players and equipment needed hurts the game. Football is a complex, complicated sport.

Will a team ever get to London? Sure sounds like that is what the NFL wants. I’m not for it. I love our UK brothers and sisters, but life in the NFL is hard. Taking trips across the pond during the season just makes life extra difficult. I don’t doubt that the fans would support the franchise. Anyone who has spent time in the comments section here knows how dedicated UK fans are. They stay up late for some games, get up early for others. They go out of their way to follow their team of choice.

The Internet might be the biggest factor in the growth of the game, to this point and into the future. Fans can now follow teams all year long. They can learn about the game. They can interact with other fans. They can also enjoy/endure the writings of Kempski and Lawlor. And Bowen, Domowitch, Mosher, McLane, Frank and Spadaro of course.

You wonder how much more football coverage can grow, but you know it will…somehow. And fans will eat it up, here and abroad. NFL fans never say the word “enough”.

The game of football will continue go grow and expand. Every year it will become more popular around the globe. And who knows…maybe one day even Los Angeles will get a team.

_


  • Andre

    As a Brasilian fan, I have nothing to do but agree with this. There’s a big eagles community here in brasil, and most importantly, a growing interest of people for american football, as we call it. I am proud to know that I understand about the NFL as well as most people in the US (except some football geniuses like Tommy). Recently it was announced the first professional league here, and while it may not last very long, it’s a huge step for the popularization across the nation. It’s very cool that, probably in the next Draft, the first brazilian born player is going to the NFL (Cairo Santos, K from Tulane, who just won the best college kicker award)

    One thing that I’d like to say is, while Roger Goodell gets a lot of heat for things such as the lockout and the No Fun League, he has done a great job of spreading the sport worldwide.

    Keep doing the great work Tommy!

    • TommyLawlor

      Great to hear from our Brasilian friends. That is a growing football community and the Eagles are one of the most popular teams there.

  • Dan Koller

    I was just talking a bit about this today. The most prohibitive part of getting international teams is definitely travel time, but it won’t always been so. Currently it takes about 7.5 hours to go from NYC-London, 2 hours more than NYC-SF. What happens when travel technology catches up, and commercial airlines can make the trip to London in 5 hours? It’s going to be really interesting to see how the work to grow the game internationally pans out when it’s quicker to travel.

    • TommyLawlor

      Great point about faster flights. That could be a game-changer.

    • DanJ3645

      We have, or had, the technology – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concorde

      • Dan Koller

        Well THAT’S a bummer

    • mrparabolic

      Yea, but what about SF to London?

  • SteveH

    I feel like at some point Goodell is going to try and force the issue with a franchise in the UK, whether the fans want it or not. He really strikes me as the kind of person who has absolutely no spine when there are a few extra dollars to be made. He’s got quite the silver tongue as well so I’m sure he’d spin it for all it was worth.

    • TommyLawlor

      The question shouldn’t be whether the fans want it, but rather whether it is the right thing for the league. I’ve got mixed feelings on that. Can see both sides.

      • SteveH

        At the end of the day, I feel like the fans of a franchise are the ones the league is beholden too. I might be in the minority who feel that way but regardless of how I feel money will always rule the roost in professional sports.

        • Neil

          You’re absolutely correct just in terms of describing reality, but here’s the thing. The league listens to the fans through money. If you’re not giving them money you don’t get a vote.

          • TommyLawlor

            Yep.

          • SteveH

            So I guess we should get out and spend spend spend on the Eagles to make sure we don’t end up in London someday ;).

  • Insomniac

    Chad Lewis is fluent in Mandarin. Here’s him killing it and making most Chinese-Americans like me jealous.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hkbVcaQfzI

    • TommyLawlor

      Awesome video.

  • T_S_O_P

    NFL-E was a watered down product that was city based. Why should I have cheered for the London Monarchs? Better I cheer for the real thing and watch as much football highlights on the Eagles as possible. Other than that, watching the Leicester Panthers live meant more, they were worth following. Better the NFL help finance local leagues. Monarchs sponarchs!

    The American Bowl, aka Pre season in Blighty was fun. That was worth getting off your butt for. Eagles – Browns Wembley 1989 remains the only Eagles game I have seen live. I got to see Jesse Small and Robert Drummond live before you Tommy, how’s that for a Wowser?

    • DanJ3645

      Do you still watch the British game T_S_O_P?
      Did you see the Leicester Falcons with Van Pelt a couple of years ago?

      • T_S_O_P

        No. I miss the weekly paper First Down; do you remember that? Wouldn’t mind knowing as I wouldn’t mind zebra-ing (training req’d). I knew there was a Leicester team, but more through a poster on the EMB in TATE.

        • DanJ3645

          First Down was before my time playing.

          I have kept up with the game through the league’s forum -http://www.bafanl.co.uk/

          I know that there are always spaces available to help on the zebra crews. The Refs association trains and organises all the crews, I’m sure they’d be very happy to hear from you.http://www.bafra.org/

          • LeicesterEaglesAce73

            I think there are four teams in Leicester now. The two university teams (University of Leicester Lightning and DMU Falcons), the Falcons senior team and the Eagles flag team is still around, although many a year since I was involved with that. Add to that my old team in Loughborough and Leicestershire is doing well for football.

            I think football in Leicester stems from the days of the Panthers with a young Martin Johnson and Sean Payton.

            In the last ten years the University league seems to have improved and that seems to have gone hand in hand with senior teams improving. Whether this has helped cause more grass roots support or is because of it, is an interesting question.

            I know from my playing days BAFRA were desperate for more refs and I’m sure they’d welcome you with open arms TSOP, just remember to flag anyone wearing Cowboys apparell and you’ll be fine!

            As a casual follower of the UK game now, the three impressive programmes at the minute are the Tamworth Phoenix, and in London the Blitz and Warriors. I think the London teams have done well at getting guys over from the US to help with coaching etc and I think one of them had Ray Lewis over last year to talk to them. Although this may just be because I know of a few people on these teams and tend to follow them more than others.

            Whilst I think the game in the UK is developing well, I’m not sure if having a franchise here will ever take off. It would be good to see some sort of development league as there are obviously a lot of talented guys coming out of college in the US who take a year or two to develop and get lots in the roster shuffle, and it would give players from the rest of the world a chance to get in the shop window.

            I don’t know how this would work, and it might never occur, but if it was done well it could help increase the sport’s popularity around the world.

            On a slight tangent, one thing I would like to see is the addition of 3-5 practice squad places that can be “redshirted”. As in, a player is guaranteed a year on the practice squad, can’t be signed by other teams and gets to develop. These could be reserved with one space for an overseas player, one for an injured college prospect, one for a div II/div III player. Just an idea and a random thought.

    • TommyLawlor

      Wait…TSOP is from England? I always thought you were from West Virginia…

      • T_S_O_P

        I didn’t understand the lingo and had to leave :-)

  • ScouseEagle

    As a British fan, I have to say I agree with you about a London franchise. I just don’t see how it will work. Even with faster travel the jetlag from teams coming from the west coast would be huge. Not to mention the London team heading the other way eight times a year.

    Another more important factor would be the support. Most fans here have grown up with a team. Football was first broadcast over here in the mid 80s andnmany people still support the bears, dolphins and niners because they grew up watching them. My mum is from Philly and the first full game I saw on tv live was the bears/patriots superbowl, so I was immediately committed to loving the eagles and buddy ryan’s defenses. I go to the London games regardless of who’s playing because it’s s good experience to see a live game but the support is haphazard. The fans love football but not necessarily the teams playing. Consequently there’s never total silence on important third downs nor a deafening roar on the road team’s third down. The only time I remember the stadium being united was a few years back when Dallas took a beating by Jacksonville and everybody cheered each Jags touchdown on the big screen.

    My point is I don’t think a franchise here is sustainable. The support is here no doubt but for different teams. I’m from Liverpool and can get down to London for a game or two but not every other week. The games finish at a time when I can’t get a train home, so I have to stay in a hotel and take the day off work the next day. And that’s for afternoon games American time. I doubt the franchise would get much exposure in America only being able to play afternoon home games. Night games kick off here at 1 a.m. More importantly if there’s a London/Philadelphia game at Wembley I know who I’ll be cheering for and it won’t be London.

  • MFGor

    Hi guys, I’m from Armenia and probably I’m the only Eagles fan here :)

    • P_P_K

      Very cool. Do you have friends you can watch games with?

      • MFGor

        No, I don’t. Sometimes I’m watching games with my fiancee. When I start talking about football (I have to call it American football) first reaction of people is always the same, they think I’m talking about rugby.

        • Mac

          Good to have you on board!

        • P_P_K

          Bro’ from Armenia?!?! Watchiing games alone?! You should be nominated for Eagles fan of the year.

    • TommyLawlor

      You’re a trailblazer. That’s awesome. Thanks for being an Eagles fan.

  • JulzPE

    It’s tricky being an NFL fan in Australia, but it’s definitely worth it. Fantastic sport that is growing over here, it’s great to see guys like Jesse Williams entering the league as a highly rated prospect.

    Not many Eagles fans here let alone NFL fans so it makes places like this, and writers like you, Tommy, all the more important for me. Somewhere I can come and get a fans perspective goes a long way in understanding the game.

  • aurelien_brouir

    “The atmosphere at the games was awkward”. I get what you’re saying. When I watched one of your soccer games, all the fans could shout was “USA! USA!”. Man that was awkward as hell.

    More seriously, as a Belgian fan (and player in an amateur team), I can see football’s popularity growing slowly everyday. A NFL franchise in London surely would help but sport systems in Europe will always be an obstacle. For example in Belgium there is no such thing as a high-school sport team. It’s all about town clubs, which means it’s somehow less accessible. Sports are a hobby, not something tied to education. If it were, I believe less-known sports like football could get more exposure.

  • Macsit

    As an Italian fan, thumbs up for the Nfl going global.
    The biggest change to me was the introduction of nfl gamepass. It’s not cheap at all but it’s a great service for us international fans

  • Carl

    As a big football fan in the UK the internet has really made it possible to follow the NFL so much better. Means I can get news whenever I want to and I can buy the gamepass from the NFL so I can see all the games I want to, even if its ridiculously expensive. As an Eagles fan it really helps to have a few really good blogs to read such as yours Tommy and Jimmy’s (whatever the next ones gonna be) with frequent updates so a nerd as myself can usually wake up everyday to a new post or two.
    Have talked to Cecil Martin a few times when he’s been at my old university and he’s one cool guy, really makes u appreciate how big nfl players are he’s been retired for a few years but he still looks massive! And he can cut some cool moves on the dancefloor, lets just say he didn’t have any trouble getting lucky the nights I’ve seen him at a nightclub.

    • T_S_O_P

      You can only watch all the games live if you also have Sky, Lord Satan Murdoch has deemed it so. Also, the introduction of Thursday night games are a real bummmmmmer for the International fan.

      Our performance last year makes GamePass a viable option from October on this year for me, last year was a wash out both in terms of performance and being able to use my GamePass subscription to watch the Eagles Live.

  • James Boyce

    Thanks for the post Tommy. It’s good to see that there is little debate on here that London would support the franchise. Anyone who doubts it doesn’t understand how crazy we are about sport here and how many people love the NFL. I do understand the reticence about expanding outside the US though. It wouldn’t stop at London. Will we be talking about a franchise in Beijing or Mumbai in years to come? However, I do believe that London will have a team by 2020 and that it will work. Despite the fact there is a lot of support here, it is still a developing sport. I have to talk to my US colleagues about football as there is little knowledge in the office. Put a team in London though and that support would grow exponentially. That’s where the support for the team itself would come from. The new fans. I’d go watch the team and even support it unless it affected the Eagles. Old Trafford is full every week but not everyone there is a Manchester United fan.

    • TommyLawlor

      Hope this is what you were looking for.

      • James Boyce

        Perfect. Great job as usual Tommy. Some really good comments too.

  • bdbd20

    The NFL did one really cool thing years ago. They allowed people outside of the US to stream all games FREE.

  • Dominik

    It will be very important for the NFL to pick up the young fans. The time difference is a huge disadvantage here (can’t watch a game at 3 am if you have to go to scholl tomorrow), but you can’t do anything about that.

    I became a football fan way too late to play the game by myself. You can’t start practise a sport if you are in your 20s.

    As for foreign players: I’m from Germany, and yes, it definitely helps Football here to have Werner and Vollmer in the NFL. Vollmer plays O-Line, a very crucial position but you can’t evaluate their talent if you aren’t a regular observer. Kind of an ungrateful position for non-experts. Same problem with Nütten (played Guard for the Rams during the greatest show on turf period).

    At least the Patriots are successful and have Tom Brady (+ Gisele :D), that helps.

    Werner now plays more of a skill position. That will help, too. It would be a real boost to have an offensive skill player (like WR or TE or RB, a QB just would be unrealistic), because that’s the easiest position to follow. 10 TDs is more impressive to hear in the news than 10 sacks, despite both having a huge impact for the game.

    I don’t know if you can really compare that, but Nowitzki had a huge influence for Basketball here in Germany. It’s not like that Basketball now is even close of being a competition for soccer, but everybody loves Nowitzki here. He is a great man, from all you can tell, beyond the court. That helps, too.

  • MediaMike

    I 100% support a London franchise. The London Jaguars are speeding towards existence by the end of the decade and I’d 100% try to plan a trip to London to see the Eagles play there if at all possible.

    I’ll fully admit to being somewhat biased in this discussion because I’ve had a decent level of European travel experience, but that doesn’t really alter what I believe to be strong support of a team over there.

    Here is my list:

    1) A flight to London in the cheap seats was a very easy time. A private NFL jet specifically outfitted for comfort, NFL size player, and 100% timed up to any visiting team would mitigate a lot of the travel concerns.

    2) There are countless thousands of American ex-pats living in London who’d jump at the chance to support a local team. Wembly or the Olympic Soccer stadium would provide an excellent venue for NFL games.

    3) The TV money would be ungodly. To add a team in London, and eventually Munich or Berlin, would open up huge untapped markets to the NFL’s TV sales machine.
    London Jags. Munich Rams. Toronto Bills. Get pumped!

    • Ark87

      I’m not against it, but I know for the first few years, every fan-base that watches their team go to London and lose will immediately blame the traveling. The uproar would be ridiculous and over blown (especially considering the home team has to make that trip for 8 (possibly 9 in the future) games, not just one.

      It always upset me that the Eagles (under Andy Reid) were terrible travelers. Some teams are great at going coast to coast. Knowing how to travel in this league is imperative to success.

      In my opinion it is relatively simple. Have a designated (and very accommodating) facility in London, owned by the NFL, for visiting teams to use in the week leading up to the game. To work out the jet lag or whatever other excuses come with traveling.

      Again: if you want to be an elite team in the NFL, you MUST know how to travel. If you can’t overcome 1 trip to London, you aren’t a contender.

      • the midatlantic

        The time difference for a west coast team playing in the UK would be pretty ridiculous. I wake up in London and the Dodgers are still playing…

  • FinnEagle

    For me it went like this: Eagles fan->NFL-fan->Football-fanatic. At first I only watched when Eagles played if I happened to find a stream that was actually watchable. The more I got into the sport the more I started watching other games. What really made helped and what has give a big boost to the popularity of NFL was the NFL Game Pass. With Game Pass we could watch every game whenever we want to.

    I now coach a under 17 years old football team in Finland and the feedback I have gotten from my players is that Margus Hunt`s and specially Bjorn Werner`s success in the NCAA is really big motivating factor to the young guys. No you have somebody who has made it the College level and from there to the NFL from Europe and it can be done. Hopefully there will be many more to come. All the FInnish players who have played in NCAA have been linemen but now we one LB in UNLV and also one RB. Hopefully those guys can make some headlines in the mainstream sports media over here, that would help us maybe to get some more players to try out this wonderfull sport.

    • Ark87

      It wouldn’t surprise me to see some Tight Ends and Linebackers coming from Scandinavia. Harness some of that Viking berserk heritage. Or am I completely off-base?

      • FinnEagle

        Im not that familiar with the Viking mytholgies because they are more from Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Maybe our Danish eagles-fans could answer this one.
        But scandinavia does have tall men, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden are all in the top6 among the tallest nations in the world. So maybe here are some sleeper tight ends growing already.

  • Ark87

    Kudos to you Tommy, for continuing to churn out good content for us to chew on.

    I’m curious about your take on the dynamic between (American) football and (football) Soccer as the football globalizes. It seems there is something of a culture war between the followers of each sport as far back as I can remember that has lead the dynamic to be pretty zero sum. Do you see fans ever largely embracing both sports or will this continue to be a culture war?

    I’m curious to hear the take of some of our global posters here as well.

    • xeynon

      I’ve lived abroad and traveled pretty widely, and I think the “culture war” thing is a bit overblown. Most foreign sports fans I’ve met are more passionate about soccer and will give you a ribbing about it being the right sport to call “football” since it uses the foot a lot more, but are not hostile to American football itself and in many cases are even big fans. The ones who aren’t tend not to be not because they think it’s an inherently stupid sport but because they don’t understand all the rules/nuances. I think the sports offer different pleasures – soccer, like basketball or hockey, is a game of flow and instinct, whereas football is all about tactics and outplanning/outthinking the opposition. It’s possible to enjoy both types of competition and indeed I like to watch all of these sports.

      If you meet a non-American who doesn’t understand the rules of American football in the future, just tell them “the team that has the ball has four chances to move the ball ten yards down the field in order to earn an additional four chances”. Most of the other rules (penalties, scoring, turnovers, etc.) can be deduced simply by watching the game.

  • A_T_G

    I hear part of the problem in going global is that there is some other game that kids in other countries play that is also called football. Apparently, in that version, you use your foot to move the ball, kind of like soccer. Weird, huh?

  • eagleyankfan

    I’m all for global fans. Love reading comments from fans across the pond. However – an NFL team across the pond? Thank you, but no. I don’t want an expansion either. Too many teams make a water downed system(like MLB).

    Speaking of baseball – Baseball is huge overseas – from every level from little league to pro. Football may be the new “national past time” but it has a LONG way to go to catch up to baseball when it comes to over seas.

  • GEagle

    it’s going to be a long time before we start getting a serious and constant stream of talent from around the world…I got to spend a few years around the pro teams in Italy, and man they are really really far behind…other parts ofthe world are sporadically producing NFL talent, but i Don’t see it even coming close to the NBA in the next decade…

    Going Global is cool, but I Despise making teams fly to London to play games…Heck,NFL teams historically really struggling traveling from East Coast to west coast. just recently we are starting to see teams occasionally overcome that commute….now we are asking teams to travel to London, for Fans that are a long way from ever really caring about our game? There will never be an influx of talent from around the world because competition is non existent. If you are a great African talent, who the hell are you competing against that will push you?…Basketball is different, I witnessed a ton of Euro basketball live and in person, and the quality of competition allows players to grow into nba talent….at the very least the NFL is still a decade or two away from even getting close to theat

    • eagleyankfan

      I agree….

    • xeynon

      it’s going to be a long time before we start getting a serious and constant stream of talent from around the world

      I think this is definitely true for the skill positions. Even running back, probably the most instinctual of these positions, requires quite a bit of grounding in the fundamentals of the game to play properly, the odd Christian Okoye or Tim Biakabutuka aside.

      Linemen are a different matter however. If you’re 6’6″ and weigh close to 300 pounds, you’re not going to be able succeed at an elite level in any other sport other than some of the track and field events (hammer throw, shotput, etc.) even if you are a top athlete for your size. Even rugby props are rarely that big since they have to run so much. Football doesn’t have much competition for the super-sized world class athlete and as the game grows around the world I think it’s likely more and more of them will choose to play it. Get a guy into a top high school or college program and he can develop into an NFL caliber lineman even if he doesn’t have a background in the sport as a kid (just look at Sebastian Vollmer, Menelik Watson, or Ziggy Ansah).

  • D3Center

    Tommy- What do you think the odds are of a Super Bowl being played overseas sometime in the near future. I don’t really see it as possible due to time differences and backlash from fans. But if Goodell sees money in it anything is possible.

    • eagleyankfan

      No. Never. You think football can make MORE money over seas than its already making? This will never happen.

      • D3Center

        I don’t necessarily think they could make more money overseas. I was just saying that if Goodell thought they could he might try it.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        i agree, the superbowl will always be here.
        but what if they added another game to determine 3rd/4th place between the losers of the AFC & NFC Championship games? that could be elsewhere in the world.
        thats a high caliber matchup any way you spin it. it would be great to have some football in the week before the superbowl too.

        • Mac

          I like the idea of a “3rd place” game, and it would be a hell of a lot more competitive than the pro bowl.

          • TheRogerPodacter

            if nothing else, it would solidify the draft order for those two teams!

  • bsuperfi

    It’s a great time to build an underwater domed stadium in the middle of the Atlantic. It’s good for the NFL. It’s good for us. And I’m sure the NFL will take pains to make sure it’s good for the surrounding neighborhoods.

    • Michael Winter Cho

      That’s something that could have happened in Dubai when Cheney was in the White House!

  • Adam

    I’m a Canadian fan. All we’ve given to the game is Danny Watkins. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

    • T_S_O_P

      Mike Schad! Have you forgotten Mike Schad? Don’t stop at Danny boy! ;)

      • xeynon

        Let’s not forget Jesse Palmer. His mostly inept quarterbacking was good for a bit of schadenfreude at the expense of the Giants fans in our lives.

    • TommyLawlor

      BANNED!!!

      Oh wait…TSOP saved you with the Mike Schad reference.

    • GEagle

      deliver us Andrew Wiggins and we will call it even, and all will be forgotten…..Deal? Lol

  • http://www.insidetheiggles.com/ CalSFro

    I took the stereotypical post-college graduation back packing trip around Europe with a couple buddies some years back. In both Belgium and Germany we met guys our age who played football. One of the guys we met actually played for the Belgian national team. The funniest, and most revealing, part was that he said he was a defensive lineman, and he wasn’t anywhere close to being bigger than my friends (one of whom played LB at Holy Cross in college and got nary an NFL sniff) and I.

    We were shocked. But he and his friends were equally shocked at how big we were. They assumed we were all athletes, not just normal American guys. And, comparatively speaking, we’re not all that big. At least for Americans.

    He also said that they played a college team once, I can’t remember which one, though I’m sure it was D3, and they were only able to score once or twice, losing by some ridiculous margin.

  • Mark Sitko

    Did you see the Eagles Eye “tribute” to you Tommy – um…that is really weird – took me a long time to figure out if the dude was being sarcastic – apparently the author is not kidding about the subpar writing over there on the eye – bad use of tone throughout…even creepy – but in the end I would say definitely a positive review of your work…like a love letter from a deranged admirer…

    • TommyLawlor

      That was interesting.

      I’ve checked the blog out a few times. Never read anything quite like that over there.

      • Mark Sitko

        Yeah – me neither…I do think the article they “quoted” in entirety is well written, but everything you write is well written…it seemed like a weird one for them to get all excited about…anyway – thanks for all your work man – I have no idea how you create so much great content…but I read it everyday with a smile

    • the midatlantic

      What exactly is going on there? The comment section is terrifying — the people sound deranged.

  • Mark Sitko

    PS – the LA dig at the end of the article is priceless…I think you will agree – the 2 greatest failures of the NFL are not having a team in LA, and the NFL network…hmm – maybe the football Gods have cursed the town that produces that television filth?

    • TommyLawlor

      That is funny.

  • sprawl

    Haven’t seen any mention of CFL here but I’ve watched a few of the games so far this season and it looks like they’re doing pretty well at cultivating local support to bring out 40k people to some of their games. It’s a different game up there but definitely worth watching in this dead zone if you can find a bar or something streaming TSN.

  • Dizzie_D

    Eagles fan from Ireland here; got into the NFL around 2003/04. Became an Eagles fan almost straight away but enjoy watching almost any game. I obviously watch every Eagles game through a stream, while we get the Sunday night game (at 1.30 am) and the Monday game (similar time) on free tv. I don’t have Sky but used to get my brother in the UK to record matches on VCR for me.

  • barneygoogle

    I’d have to generally disagree. I think the product is already being watered down too much. I’d like to see fewer teams, a 14 game season, and sharpened rivalries.
    The golden age of the NFL was the 1960’s-thru-1980’s period. Too many bad teams now. Poor tackling; lousy quarterbacks tossing the ball 50 times a game. One thing that could help is having an authorized NFL minor league, to develop more talent.

    • Mac

      This is a very interesting idea. I’m not sure how you pitch it to current fans that there NFL team is being relegated to the minors though, let alone how you would pitch that to the owners.

  • irisheagle23

    Hi Tommy, just wanted to hail the Eagles fans from Ireland. Love the Eagles and have a goal of travelling to an Eagles game in the next few years.

  • Alastair Lucas

    Hi Tommy

    Funny you should mention NFL Europe. I was a big fan of the Scottish Claymores when they were in existance. I even saw them win the World Bowl final against the Frankfurt Galaxy at Murrayfield stadium in Edinburgh. That was in 1995 or 1996, I forget. A few NFLE players did go on to have NFL success, most notably Kurt Warner. The Claymores had George Coghill at SS in their World Bowl champions squad; he went on to win two Super Bowls with John Elway’s Broncos. However those two guys were very much the exception. Not many NFLE guys went on to have significant NFL careers, and ultimately the league was too expensive to run. Which was a shame for us European fans as it was a chance to watch not-quite-NFL-calibre players live, rather than at 3am on a Tuesday morning.

    The real challenge for the NFL is that football is only played to any great level in America. Baseball and basketball are played professionally in many countries. NFL is like you say too complicated to be taken up by amateur athletes. It’s a simple matter of culture, in the UK we play soccer, rugby and cricket. In the USA the high school and college systems feed the professional sport; it would take years to establish that here even if there was an appetite for it. Which there isn’t. Non-NFL fans in the UK look at NFL players as wimps for wearing pads. I know as much as you do that this is a misconception, but that’s just how it is.

    Best wishes

    Alastair Lucas
    Dundee
    Scotland

    • T_S_O_P

      Do you remember TE Duane Chandler? Testing your Claymore blood…

      • Alastair Lucas

        Dwayne Chandler? I don’t recall him. Yo Murphy and Sean LaChapelle were the star receivers of that team. I’d forgotten that star running back Siran Stacy was a second round pick for the Eagles out of Alabama. He was my favourite player for that Claymores team. Also, there were more World League/NFLE in the NFL than I had appreciated, including the Eagle’s very own David Akers.

  • Christian Fizia

    New Jersey BadAss32 in the house. Ah no just a guy from the Bad WorldLeague! Yeah most people didn’t know the rules at this time! But the crowd was fantastic. Most people enjoyed the party and the peacefull atmosphere comparing to soccer! And do you know what. I saw David Akers before you did. Got coched by Bob B. before you knew him. Great great guy by the way. And the reality about the quality was: three weeks of preparation are not enough for great football. But this improved durring the ten week season. You can’t bring 60 guys together and hope a couple weeks later they play like a NFL team. Still love the videos of Frankfurt Galaxy in stormy rain in Amsterdam at the world bowl in 1995. Nearly 20 years ago and remember it like yesterday. Got a used jacket from a player. And yeah I earned myself a World Bowl ring with our Coach!

    • TommyLawlor

      Great story.

  • Kristopher Cebula

    i found it interesting that you compared football and basketball. I made a statement at work the other day that it would make sense for football players to be smarter than basketball players since it is a more complicated game to play. I was astonished how many people argued against this statement, with arguments that basketball players sound smarter in interviews and that basketball is a more complex game (I still don’t se how). anyway, most people disagreed with me. I don’t think that they understand the complexity of an nfl game plan or maybe they were just caught up in basketball playoffs? regardless, I wouldn’t mind hearing some other opinions on this topic. I tend to think that most people on this board might agree with me

    • Jesus Miguel Hernandez

      Sometimes I feel like any non-football fan thinks football is just about big guys who can tackle, catch and throw passes, they really underrate the “mind” game that it really is and any comment about football players having the “need to be intelligent” seems stupid to them … So yeah, almost any other sport fan will argue against this point without even knowing the game well

  • Jesus Miguel Hernandez

    I understand they want to keep up with London but as a Mexican fan of the game (& the eagles) I just don’t get why they don’t bring some games over here? Or why don’t they make the team here instead of London?

    1st. There’s enough Mexican fans to fill the Aztec Stadium which would be the biggest in football and

    2nd. There wouldn’t be a problem with these “traveling” issues as there would be with traveling to London

    My theory is that since the NFL in Mexico has been growing fast maybe goodell supports the idea of playing in London to expand the fanbase …

    Any thoughts everyone?

    • xeynon

      I think security is the biggest reason this doesn’t happen. The risk of the drug cartels or some other criminal organization kidnapping an NFL player or the like is almost surely not as high as Goodell and co. think it is, but they don’t want to be liable if it does happen.

      • Jesus Miguel Hernandez

        Nah, u may hear everything you want in the news but I live in Mexico City and I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen unless the players risked themselves going to places in Mexico Cory where it’s is really insecure.

        But still I just hate the fact that they don’t even bring one pre season game over here, the last one was 2005. I think we deserve it after having more than 100k at the stadium

        • xeynon

          I agree that the dangers of crime in Mexico are wildly overstated in the American media, but in general the NFL is a risk averse league and I think they’re a bit too scared to do it.

          I also agree that the country has demonstrated enough passion for the game to deserve more attention from the NFL – any place that can pack 100 thousand cheering fans into a stadium has done so. A team there would have a huge home field advantage – playing a road game at Azteca would make going to Qwest Field seem like attending a tea party by comparison.

  • BritishEagles.co.uk

    If for whatever reason they create a London franchise the current UK fans wouldn’t be as quick to jump ship from the current franchise they follow.

    The new London based team would simply be second favourites for most in the UK, I’ll be Eagles British franchise or not.

    Needless to say the NFL’s reach is growing every day.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Jsut checking in from New Zealand. A few fans here, and there is even a small league here in Auckland which I played in a couple of seasons ago. We had a squad of around 22, all our equipment was second-hand, and one game I had to share a helmet with a much smellier guy than me. But it was so much fun!

  • pkeagle

    Tommy,

    I grew up an Eagles fan listening to crackling radio broadcasts from AFRTS (Jack Buck & Hank Stram commentary) back in the late 80s when the NFL first became popular in Ireland.
    I now live in France and would love to see my beloved Eagles playing a game in London but like many other people’s posts, I wouldn’t like to see an NFL franchise in London or anywhere else in Europe.

    Fans of the game over here have allegiances to teams which won’t change – I could never imagine supporting another team even half as much as the Eagles and it would be a logistical nightmare for the current stateside franchises.
    Thanks for the article though – always great to see so many posts from around the world from Eagle Nation !!

  • H_Manders

    Eagles fan from the Netherlands here… who saw Warner play before he was Warner in one of the craziest games of football ever…

    One of the biggest problems of NFL Europe was that there was no link with local fans. NFL Europe was seen as a developmental league for AMERICAN players – the direct result was that the scrubs of the NFL teams got all the playing time; not even the better prospects of the teams seemed to be playing. For all intent and purposes the ability of local fans to identify with the team would have been the same as if the games had been played in the middle of the Amazon jungle. The biggest problem was that the team was run by the teams in the NFL – they determined who would play, and not the players of the club themselves…

    Local players – exception perhaps provided by the make-up position of kicker – got NO chance. If they were truly lucky, they might be a special teams scrub, who only got to play ST or his position if all other American alternatives on the team had dropped dead.
    The way to gain ground in Europe would have been to have local players be part of the team, and have the best players play. Unless we were truly blessed in Amsterdam with just about the worst coaching staff in history for years in a row this was simply not the case…

    We saw playes make mistakes and do stupid stuff that even on the lowest level of local Dutch football (i.e. any random high school team from Hawaii or one of the Dakotas would run circles around them) would get yanked for and yelled at. It was awful.
    Even if we as locals did/do not know football that well, at some point we are going to spot sheer and utter stupidity and notice that it is not the best players playing and locals not getting a chance (a few local players eventually quite trying out for the Admirals as a direct result).

    Another big issue is the game speed. As paradoxical as it sounds (considering soccer) it is already considered slow by European standards (start/stop), the amount of commercial breaks did not help either.

    In general – I do not see an NFL team stationed in Europe work; biggest problem is (1) history of the sport in Europe (or rather lack thereof) and (2) players Europeans can identify with (i.e. the team being theirs) are lacking. And yes, that is even something that on can affect soccer clubs and their fans (fans not identifying the team since they are all (foreign) mercenaries with no local connections.