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The NFL can try to force a team in London, but the players will always hate it
Frank Schwab 4 hours ago Shutdown Corner
The NFL is interested by the idea of having a team in London. This isn't a big secret. Really, it's something that makes sense to all the NFL suits but pretty much nobody else.
Some marketing folks probably get excited about becoming a "global brand," and owners probably love the idea of more money (I'm still skeptical that one team in London really brings the profit margins up that much for a league that makes billions already). Have you ever met anyone else who is excited about the idea? Probably not.
Here's one important group that absolutely hates the idea: NFL players.
With Minnesota and Pittsburgh playing in London on Sunday, there were another round of stories asking players what they would think about playing for a team based in London. And all I can say is, good luck signing any free agents, future London NFL team.
"I'd retire before going to London," Steelers safety Ryan Clark told ESPN.
"Just personally speaking, I probably wouldn't sign over here because of the fact that every road trip is going to be three, four, five days away from your family," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen told the Star-Tribune.
"All your family is back in the United States. Who would do that?" Eagles linebacker Trent Cole told ESPN.com.
"If that happens, it's a clear vision that they don't really care about the players' safety," Panthers receiver Steve Smith told ESPN.com. They care about their pockets. And I think that is messed up."
The ESPN.com story was illuminating, because among a group of players the site asked, only Eagles center Jason Kelce was excited about the idea. Everyone else said they wouldn't sign with a London team, although Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson had the most honest answer when he said, "I'd be up for the challenge ... if they paid me. More than I get paid here. You know what I'm saying?"
Johnson has a $72 million deal over six years with Carolina, by the way.
Would high draft picks simply refuse to go play there, like Eli Manning and John Elway did? If the Bills had to overpay defensive end Mario Williams $96 million to come to Buffalo, how much would a London team have to offer to get an elite free agent? Paying free agents twice as much as the market thinks they are worth, or filling a team with castoffs who couldn't find a job with the other 31 U.S.-based teams is not a long-term plan in a sport with a salary cap.
Perhaps the NFL will still try to force this regrettable idea down everyone's throats. But doing so would prove the league is being pretty tone deaf on the issue.