Last night the NFL decide to play a game in quite possibly the worst place in the world to play a game ever since Veteran’s Stadium was razed; a place where the turf is not firm, the air is thin with oxygen yet thick with pollution, and where 100,000+ people are there acting with the social graces similar to a Breitbart Comments Section. Yes, the NFL played a game, a regular season game mind you, at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
Other than the question whether or not it is a good idea to play a high-leverage game in another country, thus taking away 1 of 8 crucial home games from an unlucky team (sorry Raiders), there is a bigger issue here. An issue that bodes very gloomy for the city of Oakland:
When the NFL takes your home games away and puts them in another country, that is a sign your owner wants out.
Granted, this is not what always ends up happening. But let’s just say we are not seeing Dallas, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, or other stable franchises journeying across borders to showcase their wares to the foreign marketplace.
Let’s look at some examples:
2005 the NFL played a regular season game in Azteca Stadium; Cardinals vs 49ers. Hmmm, guess who was the home team here. Yeah, the Cardinals volunteered to sacrifice their home game for this one. Why? Well, when this thing was set up, there was a possibility the Cards were moving to LA. Luckily for the 16 Cardinal fans in Phoenix, the Bidwells were too lazy to act on this. Yes, their new stadium was to open in 2006, but the construction of this stadium was approved based on the threat of moving. When this game was played, the Cards were staying, but the scheduling of this game, at the time, did not bode well.
Starting in 2008, the Buffalo Bills started playing one home game in Toronto, and it was not against the Argonauts. The Bills have a solid fanbase unlike Phoenix, so why would they be willing to lose a home game? Well, the owners at the time came out in 2013 and said they ‘would not mind moving to Toronto’. Wow. That is sort of big news. But again, luckily for Bills faithful, they were bought by a group soon after that promised not to move them.
Who loves going to London every year? Well, none other than the lamest franchise in all of the NFL; the Jacksonville Jaguars. Shahid Khan, the owner of the Jags, obviously is not from ‘round these parts (from Pakistan). Don’t worry Trump, he is a legal citizen…although he is a Muslim. Anyway, he owns tons of things, from fine silverware to car parts distribution centers for Toyota to a soccer team in England. Hmmmm, the NFL wants to expand to Europe, Mr. Khan has connections in England and his team dud market in Florida….hmmmm. Anyway, if the NFL figures out the logistics of an expansion to London, bet your mortgage that it will be the Jaguars that will become expats.
The St Louis Rams actually volunteered to play that London game last year. Yeah, we know the end of that story.
Anyway, it looks like the Raiders will move to Vegas sooner rather than later. When you have an owner who forfeits home games to another country and looks like this,
that is a precursor for disaster. This is not the Bidwell’s who are lazy but still got their stadium deal. This is not the Bills who sold their team. This is a Davis, Mark to be exact. He is motivated, not selling the team, and is not getting anywhere with a new stadium deal in Oakland.
So yes, it may be fun for the NFL to jaunt around the globe, but there is always a subtext to it.