For the last decade, American football has tried to slowly seep its way into English culture, introducing one marquee game a year in the UK … then two games … then three games … and now it seems that 2017 will play host to four games, featuring eight different NFL teams.
Having just lived the passionate furore of the World Athletics Championships in London, it seems that all forms of sports are giving Londoners and the English a reason to pack out the stadiums and shout in support, so four consecutive American Football games will have the crowds baying for more, which offers the NFL a huge opportunity to diversify into a country where sport is at its very core.
With extensive coverage and, according to Sportingbet (one of the leading bookmakers), a huge surge in betting activity, the four games will be played as follows:
Miami Dolphin vs New Orleans Saints — September 24th at Wembley Stadium
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens — October 1st at Wembley Stadium
Cleveland Browns vs Minnesota Vikings — October 22nd at Twickenham
Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals — October 29th at Twickenham
However, that’s not to gloss over the naysayers who have pointed out one very important point. The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons — who fought out Super Bowl LI in February — are not among the eight-team lineup coming to visit.
In fact, not one winning side from either the American Football Conference nor the National Football Conference in 2016 will join their compatriots in the UK to showcase the raw talent of the NFL. So while London looks forward to American Football and the passion of a sport that has gripped the United States for so many decades, is it right that some people feel a little aggrieved by the fact that we are being short-changed?
Think of the summer break in the Premier League, where the biggest teams head to Asia, Australia and the States to play in competitions — giants like Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal. Yes, of course the other teams head out and about as well, but the flagships of the EPL are on display for the States to see and embrace. Isn’t it almost justice that the NFL sends the same cream of the crop to England, so English fans can witness the true apex of the sport?
Perhaps that’s all irrelevant as each year the passion behind these NFL games demonstrates an increase in support behind them and who knows, if Londoners rally behind the teams enough this year, 2018 may see some of the top dogs head on over as well.