The NFL’s 100th season is fast approaching, and with it the possibility of a landmark global move: kicking off the 2019 season in China.
The idea’s not so farfetched; the league had planned to play in China in 2018, but has postponed those plans for logistical reasons related to juggling more than half a dozen international games each season. Now, per a new report in Sports Business Journal, the league could begin its centennial season with the firmest indicator yet of football’s future.
“It may make better sense to look at that game as an opportunity to celebrate our hundred years, in the event we can pull it off and as a way to look forward to the future,” NFL Executive VP/International Mark Waller told SBJ. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has advocated a game in China for more than a year.
The Los Angeles Rams would serve as the “home” team; the Rams are in the midst of a series of delays of their own, having pushed their planned stadium opening from 2019 to 2020. The Rams will have to surrender one of their home dates to play internationally.
A China game would be the eighth outside the United States in a given season, in addition to the four played in London, the two planned for a partnership with English soccer club Tottenham, and the one in Mexico City. The NFL has tried on two previous occasions to play in China: once with the Seahawks and Patriots in 2007, and again in the 2009 preseason. Both attempts were cancelled. The NFL cancelled the 2007 game in order to focus its international efforts on the first London game, played later that season. The Patriots had established a beachhead in China in preparation for the 2009 game, but the global recession forced the closure of that camp, and later the entire game.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.