The Oakland Raiders will play a “home” game in London, England, in 2014 against an as yet unnamed NFL rival in the league's bid to promote the sport outside the United States.
The Oakland Raiders will be one of three NFL teams to play one of their eight regular-season home games in London's Wembley Stadium next season. The opponents and dates have yet to be announced. The other two NFL teams chosen to play “home” games in London are the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlanta Falcons.
“We are excited to embrace this great opportunity to assist in building NFL popularity worldwide,'' Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis said is a statement released by the NFL.
A reporter for the Oakland Tribune, meanwhile, suggested that only "weak teams" were selected for this "honour"… because they didn't always sell out games at home …
Oh, really? Here I thought that the Oakland Raiders were chosen because they were a "global brand" …
You know, like the New York Yankees? Coca-Cola? McDonald's?
The Oakland Raiders have two players that were born in the United Kingdom: defensive lineman Jack Crawford and offensive tackle Menelik Watson, both of whom immigrated to the United States in their teens.
Could they do for the NFL in Britain what Yao Ming did for the NBA in China?
The last time the Oakland Raiders played a game outside the United States was in 2001, when they faced the Dallas Cowboys at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico.
The Oakland Raiders have played a total of five football games outside the United States since 1990, but never in a regular-season game.
The fact that the NFL is scheduling three regular season games in London next season adds fuel to speculation that the league is hoping to spread its wings across the Atlantic Ocean.
I can't help but wonder if Mexico City wouldn't be a more logical choice.
To start with, the NFL already has a massive fan base south of the border. Secondly, there wouldn't be the same time zone issues that would be created if the NFL had teams playing across the Atlantic Ocean.