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Beginning with the 2005 season, the National Football League has hosted regular season American football games held outside the United States.

Contents

Background

Prior to 2005, the NFL's primary method of promoting its game abroad was through the American Bowl, a series of preseason games played around the world, and the NFL Europe League, a developmental league based in Europe. The American Bowls ended in 2005 (though a similar China Bowl was planned for 2007 before being canceled), while NFL Europe folded in 2007.

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, has considered expanding the league's appeal overseas ever since the end of NFL Europa. Goodell has openly discussed the idea of holding a future Super Bowl game in London[1] The NFL is also investigating the possibility of adding a 17th regular season game to all teams, taking the place of the fourth pre-season game.[2] Aside from the United Kingdom, other prime areas to get games would be Germany; Mexico; and Canada. Mark Waller, NFL senior vice president, international, doubts Asia or Australia would be targeted because of the travel concerns, but he doesn't dismiss anything.[2] Waller notes that there won't be 16 different venues for the 17th games. More likely would be a "mini-season ticket" of perhaps four games in one city or country.[2] There was discussion that this "17th game" could take effect as early as the 2009 NFL season; however, 2010 would be the earliest this could be implemented (because of concerns about playing on Labor Day or over the 2010 Winter Olympics, the league's rigid scheduling formula, and the league's collective bargaining agreement [CBA]).[2] League officials were pondering moving a second existing game abroad for the 2010 season, but eventually abandoned it due to the ongoing CBA negotiations.[3]

Games in the United Kingdom are broadcast on Sky Sports with a HD option and also on the BBC with BBC Two showing the first half and BBC Three the second half, with color commentary by Jerry Rice. On radio, the games are broadcast by BBC Radio 5 Live, with Arlo White commentating.

Typically, the games in Europe are played on the last weekend of October. Normally this is the same weekend as Major League Baseball's World Series (although in 2009, this was not the case because the World Series is playing one week later than usual), that week has no Sunday night game, allowing for the International Series to be the featured game of the day. These games are always played at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time to account for time zone differences. Games played in Canada or Mexico would not be subject to these restrictions. Also, on the last Sunday in October, daylight saving time ends in Europe, one week earlier than it ends in the United States. Because of this, a game with in London a 1:00 pm EDT kickoff would begin at 5:00 pm local time instead of 6:00 pm. But NFL will never play a game again in Mexico, only in London, England.

Since 2007, all games have featured one team from each conference.

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2005

On October 2, 2005, the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 31–14 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, under the name NFL Fútbol Americano. It was the first regular season NFL game held outside of the United States.[1] The game drew the NFL's highest game attendance at the time with 103,467 spectators.[1][4]

2007

2007 NFL International Series.svg

The Miami Dolphins hosted the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium in London, England on October 28, 2007. The Giants defeated the Dolphins 13–10 in the first regular season NFL game held outside of North America. The first 40,000 tickets sold out for the game in the first 90 minutes of sales.[1][5]

The game was aired on Fox, but was not available nationwide in the United States. Portions of the midwestern and Rocky Mountain areas of the United States did not get to see the game on television.[citation needed]

2008

The San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints played at Wembley Stadium on October 26, 2008. The game ended with New Orleans winning, 37–32.[6]

Like the 2007 game, this matchup was not seen nationally, having only regional coverage on CBS. However, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, the network's top announcing team, were assigned to the game, and opening ceremonies were carried live before cutting away to local games.

2009

The New England Patriots defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35–7 in the 2009 edition in front of 84,254 in attendance. The game was televised regionally in the United States by CBS (as New England was the designated "visitor") and on Sky Sports and BBC1 in the United Kingdom. CBS broadcaster Phil Simms noted during the opening of the game that "the fans in London came up to him and said they were more excited about this game then the previous two." It's most notably because the New England Patriots have huge fan base in the United Kingdom and the fact that QB Tom Brady was the center of attention by the British media from the moment the Patriots arrived in London, more than the designated "home" team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose owner Malcom Glazer, also owns Manchester United. [6]

2010

On January 15th, 2010, it was announced that the two teams to play in the 2010 International Series will be the San Francisco 49ers (as the home team) and the Denver Broncos.[7] If the game is held on the traditional Sunday afternoon time slot, CBS will carry the game.

Game history

Date Television Designated Visitors Score Designated Home Score Stadium City
October 2, 2005 ESPN San Francisco 49ers 14 Arizona Cardinals 31 Estadio Azteca Mexico City Mexico
October 28, 2007 Fox New York Giants 13 Miami Dolphins 10 Wembley Stadium London United Kingdom
October 26, 2008 CBS San Diego Chargers 32 New Orleans Saints 37 Wembley Stadium London United Kingdom
October 25, 2009 CBS New England Patriots 35 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7 Wembley Stadium London United Kingdom
October 31, 2010 CBS Denver Broncos - San Francisco 49ers - Wembley Stadium London United Kingdom

Possible future teams

Before the Chargers and Saints were announced to be the two teams headed to London in 2008, the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks were identified as teams interested in playing a future game in Europe.[8] In particular, Seattle, which had been slated to play the China Bowl before that game was canceled, had shown a continued interest in playing a game abroad. Tampa Bay eventually got the 2009 game. Whether or not Kansas City and Seattle, who are slated to play each other in 2010 (which would have made it an ideal candidate for the 2010 game) are still interested in playing an international game in 2011 or beyond is unknown. Under the scheduling formula, the teams do not meet each other again until 2014, though either one could play another opponent. Both the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins have similarly expressed interest in returning to the UK in a rematch of 2007's international series.[citation needed]

Toronto

The Buffalo Bills received a unanimous vote of approval to play one regular season game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario in the next five seasons, and a pre-season game in every other year, beginning in 2008.[9] This will be separate from the regular International Series.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Associated Press. NFL commissioner says Super Bowl may someday be held in London ESPN.com, 15 October 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d Associated Press. NFL looking closely at expanding to 17 games with international flavor ESPN.com, 10 May 2007.
  3. ^ http://blogs.nfl.com/2010/01/24/nfl-opts-not-to-hold-second-game-in-london-in-2010/ NFL opts not to hold second game in UK in 2010
  4. ^ Associated Press. 3 AFC, 3 NFC teams named possible 'hosts' in Europe ESPN.com, 8 January 2007.
  5. ^ Associated Press. Despite poor weather and a sluggish game, the stadium remained packed nd in good cheer for the entire match. Dolphins will play Giants in London on Oct. 28 ESPN.com, 2 February 2007.
  6. ^ a b Associated Press. Chargers-Saints game in London official; Bills to play some games in Toronto ESPN.com, 1 February 2008
  7. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/american_football/8462079.stm
  8. ^ Mortensen, Chris. Source: Bills likely to get OK to play game in Toronto ESPN.com, 20 January 2008.
  9. ^ Associated Press. Bills to play annual regular-season game in Toronto starting next season ESPN.com, 1 February 2008.

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