The NFL’s International Expansion: Past, Present, and Future

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Good morning. Years ago, a good measure of dedication was braving the elements on a cold or rainy Sunday. Now, some need to travel to Brazil. Or — for the truly committed among us — subscribe to Peacock. Today:

Today’s NFL stories:

  • 🌎 NFL’s international journey
  • 📉 Productive prospects
  • 💼 Rashee Rice update

Reviewing the NFL’s international approach

Yesterday, the NFL announced that the Packers and Eagles will play in Sao Paolo, Brazil on the Friday of Week 1, to be streamed exclusively on Peacock. This is another example of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s conviction to make American football a global sport.

Streaming services aside, how did we get here? A quick look at the history of the inter-National Football League:

The past: In 1976, a preseason game in Tokyo paved the way for the American Bowl series. Beginning in 1986, it led to preseason games in cities like London, Barcelona and Sydney before it was shut down in 2005, when the NFL held its first international regular season game in Mexico City.

Two years later, the NFL founded its ongoing International Series. Starting with the Giants and Dolphins in Londonit coincided with the end of NFL Europethe NFL’s version of the NBA’s G-League.

The present: 2024 will feature five international regular season games in Brazil, Germany and England. The Bears, Vikings, Jaguars and Panthers will participate, but we don’t know their opponents yet.

The Jaguars lead the NFL with 11 regular season games outside of the U.S. in the past decade, all in London. Their winning percentage in England’s capital: 54 percent. In Jacksonville: 42 percent. 👀

The future: The NFL will play eight international games in 2025, including in Madrid, Spain.

In 2028, the Olympics will include flag football for the first time. The NFL is encouraging players to participate, but as you can imagine, it might be difficult for defensive tackles:

Still, the league considers flag football a catalyst for its international growth. With tickets selling out and an Olympic-sized marketing opportunity, will the NFL add international franchises?

Unlikely, at least anytime soon. “I think you’re going to see a very global NFL, not necessarily with franchises, but maybe like have one playing games on a global basis,” said Goodell. (Like the Globetrotters?)

However, the league’s head of Europe and UK has said a franchise would be the “next phase” of European strategy. The Jaguars are considered the most likely to move, in part because owner Shad Khan is based in London.

For now, all international travel is temporary. If growth in the American market reaches capacity, that could change.

Meet the Prospects: When production ≠ draft position

Despite “production in college [that] said he should have been a first- or second-round pick,” the NFL missed on undrafted Vikings LB Ivan Pace Jr. Arguably the best LB in the 2023 class, Pace played all 17 games for the Vikings and won a Defensive Player of the Week award.

To find similar players this year, I spoke with Jayna Bardahl, writer of our great college football newsletter Until Saturday. She shared three edge rushers who produced on the stat sheet but could fall in the draft.

1. DE Mohamed Kamara from Colorado State.
Jayna: Kamara ranked fourth in the FBS in sacks last season with 1.08 per game and was within the top 10 in tackles for loss. In his sixth year of eligibility, he had one of the most productive seasons in team history and earned his conference defensive player of the year honors.

Jacob: Despite his impressive resume, his measurables (6-1, 248 pounds with 32 3/8-inch arms) are not what scouts expect at the position. Still, energetic athleticism should land him a roster spot — I’ve seen him mocked to the 49ers in round four — and is on full display here:

2. DE Joe Evans from Iowa.

Jayna: Iowa’s defense led the FBS in yards per play allowed (4.08) last season, while the former walk-on led them in TFLs, QB pressures and sacks. His 28 career sacks rank fourth in Iowa history.

Jacob: Evans didn’t receive a combine invitation, but with almost all 32 teams in attendance during Iowa’s pro day, he impressed. One catch: To land with an NFL team, Evans pitched playing fullback. I’m rooting for him.

3. DE Jalen Green from James Madison.

Jayna: James Madison was 9-0 with Green in the lineup in 2023 before he sufferred a knee injury. Still, a season with 21 TFLs and 15.5 sacks earned him first-team All-America honors from The Athletic.

Jacob: Green’s spot as edge No. 46 in Dane Brugler’s The Beast (which I’ll be referring to extensively this month) suggests we might not hear his name called. A lack of size (at 6-1, 245 pounds) when compared to NFL offensive linemen makes difficult for scouts to be confident in that breakout campaign translating to the pros.

Around the NFL

WR Rashee Rice has a warrant out for his arrest from the Dallas Police Department. This comes after a high-speed, multi-vehicle crash allegedly caused by Rice and his friends, who appeared to flee the scene. Even if Rice isn’t convicted, or if he agrees to a plea deal, he is likely to be suspended, writes Nate Taylor.

The Beastannually the most thorough NFL Draft scouting report you can get your hands on, went live yesterday, as did a podcast with its author, Dane Brugler, where he explains the work that went into it. Also, other draft experts shared their thoughts on what stood out in The Beast.

Jacob’s Picks

📕 Insider’s perspective on combine. The best way to know what the NFL combine is really like is by following NFL Network’s Peter Schrager, as Bruce Feldman proved with his story. (The Athletic)

📺 Remember the first Marvin Harrison? Here’s a quick reminder of the NFL’s No.1 WR of the 2000s. (YouTube)

🎙 Hiring Sean McVay. Rams GM Les Snead explained why he was comfortable hiring the 30-year-old McVay as HC around the 45-minute mark in this insightful listen. (The Knowledge Project)

Now, share this newsletter with the one Rams fan you know. Are you that friend? Sign up here.

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The Bounce 🏀 | The Windup ⚾ | Full Time ⚽ | Prime Tire 🏁 | Until Saturday 🏈

Clive Rose/Getty Images)

2024-04-11 14:30:57
#history #potential #future #NFLs #international #approach


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