The National Football League announced its 2014 International Series schedule on Thursday morning and, for the second straight year, a Bay Area team is heading to jolly old England.
The Oakland Raiders will make their first trip to London for a regular season game to host the Miami Dolphins, according to the National Football Post, with the game to be one of three to be played at Wembley Stadium next year.
The San Francisco 49ers play the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Sunday, the first time the NFL has staged two games at Wembley in a single season.
The other matchups for next season will include the Dallas Cowboys playing the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlanta Falcons will play the Detroit Lions. Jacksonville and Atlanta are the designated hosts for those games, as the Jaguars have agreed to give up one home date for the London series through 2016.
The Raiders, Cowboys, Falcons and Lions are first-timers in the London rotation. The Dolphins played in the inaugural International Series game at Wembley Stadium in 2007.
I get it—it’s a revenue enhancer for the league. The guys with the slide rules speak in breathless tones about the 12-million member fan base in the United Kingdom that includes 2.5 million “avid” fans, a number they say has grown by 30 percent over the last two years.
So what’s the NFL’s end game? Well, the Daily Telegraph in London reported last month that the managing director for the NFL in the UK said it’s “possible” a franchise could be permanently placed in London by the end of the decade.
Is it really feasible? They give teams a bye week after they disrupt their internal clocks to head to London, but that’s not something that could be done for a full schedule.
Call me a curmudgeon, but I’m with FOX Sports analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, who said last month:
“Nobody cares anything about that game. The players don’t want to go. You can’t enjoy it. Now preseason, OK, have some fun. It’s regular season, so yeah, I don’t get it—never will.”