Blog Entry

Is playing in London really worth it?

Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:53 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 10:30 pm
Wembley Stadium

By Josh Katzowitz

Rams owner Stan Kroenke is excited about his team committing to play a regular-season game in London for the next three years. As he should be, considering he’s also the owner of the English Premier League’s Arsenal soccer team and because he and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell want to continue expanding the league brand into Europe.

While some St. Louis fans, already worried that the Rams could be the team to relocate back to Los Angeles in the near future, probably wonder if this news will pave the way for the organization eventually to leave the city, there has to be another concern for the franchise. Basically, how will the long trip across the Atlantic Ocean affect the team for the rest of that season?

In 2010, I talked to then-49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes for a Five Questions (or more)* interview, and he recalled how long it took for his teammates to recover from the long jaunt.

“We got there Monday morning, and we didn’t recover until that Thursday,” Spikes said. “That’s when everybody’s bodies were back on schedule. I can’t even imagine doing what Denver wanted to do and expect them to feel well-rested and alert. I know for us, even on Wednesday, I still couldn’t go to sleep on time."

*As a casual aside, to let you know how quickly fortunes are made and lost in the NFL, this conversation occurred 14 months ago, and I talked with Spikes about whether Troy Smith was the quarterback of the future in San Francisco. Not Alex Smith. Troy Smith.

[RELATED: Take our Facebook poll: Do you want your favorite NFL team playing in London?]

It’s a change for coaches and players obsessed with a normal weekly routine, and you have to wonder if it’s a disruption that makes the rest of the season a difficult task. In other words, does the trip to London help the NFL’s brand but ultimately harm that team for the rest of the year?

Let’s take a look.

Here are the results of the trip to England from 2007-11.

2007 – Giants 13, Dolphins 10

2008 – Saints 37, Chargers 32

2009 – Patriots 35, Buccaneers 7

2010 – 49ers 24, Broncos 16

2011 – Bears 24, Buccaneers 18

Here’s how those teams finished the regular season:

2007 – Giants 4-4**, Dolphins 1-7***

2008 – Saints 4-4, Chargers 5-3

2009 – Patriots 5-4, Buccaneers 3-6

2010 – 49ers 4-4, Broncos 2-6

2011 – Bears 4-5, Buccaneers 0-9

And here is the cumulative record from those teams after participating in the London trip: 32-52

**Of course, the Giants won the Super Bowl that year, beating the 18-0 Patriots in the process.

***To be fair, the Dolphins didn’t win any games before the London trip.

Three of those squads (the 2007 Giants, 2008 Chargers and the 2009 Patriots) made the playoffs. Sure, you could make the case that most of those squads were fairly mediocre in those particular seasons, but the fact that only one two out of 10 emerged out of the trip with a winning record (and barely, at that) is a sign that perhaps Kroenke shouldn’t be too excited about making the trip the next three seasons.

Because so far, we’ve seen that the trip just isn’t worth it for a team’s long-term results.

UPDATE (3:00 p.m. ET): One of our readers brings up a good question: what was the teams' cumulative record before the London trip. It was 22-30 for a winning percentage of 42.3. The winning percentage for post-London teams is 38.1.

So, not a huge disparity, but I maintain the answer to the original question is the same. Is traveling to London a good idea for your team? No. Does it harm your team in the long-run? For the majority of teams, yes.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.

Since: Jul 4, 2007
Posted on: January 29, 2012 2:02 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

I'm a Brit and a Redskins fan since SBXVII and I think that one game a year in London is enough. Two games a year will stretch the interest and as for a London franchise or Super Bowl... forget it. However, it does become tiresome listening to some U.S fans bang on about how we don't understand the game in Europe when many of us have been watching the game longer than they have been born. Yes, there are many Brits who think that U.S football is a slower, padded version of rugby and get annoyed with terms such as 'World Champions', 'soccer' or 'could care less', but I'm not one of them. I suppose that when Spain became World Champions of football in 2010, they couldn't care less what Americans thought of their achievement. ;-)

Since: Oct 10, 2011
Posted on: January 21, 2012 12:49 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

"Playing games in London is ridiculous. Just give them the preseason games. It's also dumb for Buffalo to play in Canada as well." Well Steelers fan its is not as RIDICULOUS or DUMB as your team losing to Tebow! 

Since: Oct 16, 2007
Posted on: January 21, 2012 9:16 am

Is playing in London really worth it?

I'm a little surprised at how poorly educated some American NFL fans are about the popularity of the game in Britain. We've had the NFL on our tv screens for 30 years and can now watch as many lives games as those in the US. The viewing figures for the sport in Britain continue to increase year by year. We had pre season games in London in the late 80s and early 90s and while they were welcome the attendances dropped over the last couple of years as fans became less satisfied at seeing starters for only a quarter before they were replaced by second stringers and then by guys that were never going to make the final rosters. NFL Europe gave us the chance to follow teams of our own, but ultimately the quality of play wasn't great and the fans yearned for more. The next logical step was to have regular season games and I don't think anyone can deny they have been a success, with all being sold out bar the 2011 game, and that was due to the players/owners dispute delaying the planning of the game.

I also don't understand why some Americans are so against the game becoming popular elsewhere? I'd have thought that would be a source of pride. American football will never be as popular as football in Britain in the same way that football will never be as popular as the NFL in the US. It doesn't mean that there's not room for both in either country. I love both sports.

Having said all that, I am sceptical about the establishment of a franchise in Britain. It's all very well selling out one game every year, but doing the same for 8 is a different matter. Added to that are the logistical difficulties of having a team on a separate continent. There aren't any real issues when it comes to fixtures against east coast clubs, but games against teams from the west coast would be a challenge. The schedule would need to be very carefully thought out. For me, the next step would be to add a 2nd regular season fixture for a couple of years, see how successful this is and progress from there. If there is to be a team based in Britain it's still many years away I suspect.


Since: Jan 20, 2012
Posted on: January 20, 2012 7:52 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

i have been stationed in england for the past 3 years, my team is the bears and when i heard they were coming here i had to, i got front row tickets, not only was the view awful of the field, but all the brits were more amused by a squirrel on the field and some fat out of shape brit running onto the field with his shirt off, which he was able to do about 4 laps before anyone stopped him, it totally ruined the great nfl experience, anytime i stood up and got excited for a play i felt like i was the only one knowing what was goig on, it was so quiet in there you could hear the coaches yelling and players, it was the most boring nfl game of my life, waste of time and money for teams

Since: May 2, 2008
Posted on: January 20, 2012 6:12 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

For Stan Kroenke, it is completely worth it. He's taking one of his franchises to the same city as one of his other franchises (Arsenal).

Since: Jan 16, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2012 5:34 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

It depends on how you want to look at this. There are 32 teams, only 12 of which make the playoffs. Could the arguement that any team that travels to Buffalo should not play in Buffalo any longer because I am confident results would be similar. In addition, when a look at the teams prior seasons record is evaluated, one will notice that the teams that played London did not have a glorious winning record the prior season, seems almost that the scheduling, if we determine the loss ratio in London, that this location is pre-planned for failure? As far as the Rams playing in London, and having family in St Louis that are fans, atleast the owner is guaranteeing a sell-out, something he is having a hard time doing in Missouri anymore. I say increase the city locations and bring the NFL to the Western Hemisphere, include Mexico City, Paris, Rio, Montreal, Tokyo, and Singapore as host cities. Schedling would be a piece of cake, whichever teams play overseas, they clearly would have a bye week the following and increase the season to 18 games so home fans could still get their value. I see nothing wrong with playing in another city, especially when there is a fan base to support it. Old Great Britain and excellent business strategy....bring the business to the customer and you will become wealthy.

Since: Mar 1, 2009
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:46 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

at first this seemed to be a cool idea but now I'm getting the impression that the nfl players could really do without playing london.

Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:22 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

Hell yeah! I'm a life-long Rams fan and happen to be living in Prague - this was a gift from the Gods!!!!!!!

Since: Nov 18, 2011
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:19 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

Josh, it may not be worth it in terms of the season ending record, but Kroenke most likely doesn't care. He put his money into Arsenal the same as the Rams, and he understands it's all about the financial gain.  If our culture valued buffing pad manufacturers above all else, these wealthy guys would all get into making buffer pads.  Been a long time since a franchise has lost value -- some have been pissed away by their owners, but it's rare.   The NFL (New Franchise London!) will soon be international because of dollars and pounds.  I could dig tailgating with fish & chips, guinness pie, and a local ale.  Oh, but wait!  It would be different!  We wouldn't know what to do!   The sky is falling!

Since: Jan 16, 2012
Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:35 pm

Is playing in London really worth it?

Aside from the recovery issues from the travel and time change adjustment, what is gained by playing an NFL game outside the USA? People who are real fans will subscribe to and watch any game they want each week, like a couple of my friends do here in Germany (they are German). They went to the USA to watch an NFL game. An NFL game outside the USA is not a real NFL game in terms of atmosphere. Basketball became a popular sport internationally long before the NBA considered playing outside the USA. Oddly enough, I don't see any English Premier League football (soccer) clubs playing a regular season game in the USA or even anywhere on the European continent for that matter. Why not? Probably because it would anger their loyal local fans who would have to forego a home game, like the Rams will.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or