David Goldman/The Associated Press NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is weighing the options of the league expanding to other countries permanently.
With the NFL opening in earnest on Sunday, here's the question du jour:
Should the NFL be expanding into Europe and other countries?
There are basic upsides for the league: expand to promote American football globally; add to the revenue stream, etc.
Here's what we know: ever since William Perry and the Bears played London following their superstar Super Bowl Shuffle in the 80s, the NFL has spread its popularity with exhibition games in Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia and Mexico. China, too, was once in the works. This October the Patriots and Rams meet at London's Wembley Stadium, which is hosting a regular season NFL game for a sixth straight year.
Over the summer, Pats owner Robert Kraft went one better when he lobbied for London to land a permanent NFL franchise. "I think we're starting to tap out in the United States," Kraft said in June. "If you look at the last Super Bowl we were in this past season, we had over 180 million people watching -- that's almost two thirds of America. So for us to grow the game, we have to expand globally." London reportedly is also bidding to host a future Super Bowl.
Regular-season games played in another country devalue otherwise scheduled "home" games for the home teams. Foreign cities poach the home game away from employee- and customer-filled downtowns back in the U.S., so I'm not wild about anything beyond exhibition games or the orphaned Pro Bowl being out-sourced to other shores.
And speaking of Super Bowls ... this just may be the year we get a Manning-Manning Super Bowl with Denver and the Giants. Or, sleeper picks abound when Miami meets Green Bay. Could be.
But I like the 49ers over the Patriots in Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans, in a performance that will power-swap Belichick/Brady for Harbaugh/Smith.