Patriots owner thinks London is ready for NFL team
Despite the time-zone differences and a world of other complications, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said on Saturday that he thinks London is ready for its own NFL team.
“You’re already hosting the Premier League, and we believe we’re the premier sport in the world,” Kraft told the crowd at a rally in London’s Trafalgar Square. “I think London has shown, with the way they’ve handled the Olympics and every other major sporting event, that it’s time for you to have your own NFL franchise, based in London.”
Sunday’s game, in which the Patriots will play the St. Louis Rams at Wembley Stadium, is the sixth regular-season NFL game held in London. The Jacksonville Jaguars will play one “home” game there in each of the next four seasons, which will help Londoners build something of a relationship with the team.
“Whatever we can do to cultivate playing football throughout the world … We’ve been discussing that the NFL, I don’t know if we’ve done as good a job as we could educating the rest of the world what a great game it is,” Kraft said.
It’s true that unlike baseball, which now draws much of its talent from Latin America, or hockey, where Russia and several European countries have dynamic leagues of their own, football is more or less confined to the U.S. The UK does have youth and adult American football organizations, but they’re more or less an afterthought to soccer.
It’s hard to imagine the logistics of travel for a London-based team, which would be on a five-hour time difference from the East Coast and an eight-hour difference from the West Coast, but if the NFL sees a potential profit there, the league may find a way.