Roger Goodell: Europe can support multiple NFL franchises, discusses 4-team division

By Tim Daniels

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hinted Saturday the league will consider a four-team European division in the future, saying it would be “easier” than putting a single franchise overseas.

Goodell discussed the potential expansion ahead of Sunday’s Week 5 game between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

“There’s no question that London could support not just one franchise, I think two franchises,” he told reporters. “I really believe that.”

The longtime commissioner then affirmed the league is considering various alternatives, including adding several Europe-based teams.

“That’s part of what we’re doing, right?” Goodell said. “We’re trying to sort of see, could you have multiple locations in Europe where you could have an NFL franchise? Because it would be easier as a division.”

The NFL launched its International Series in 2007, and a vast majority of the games (31 of 34) have taken place in London. The other three were held in Mexico City.

No European city other than London has hosted a regular-season game, but that’ll change in November when the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers play in Munich.

Before Munich was chosen, the German cities of Dusseldorf and Frankfurt were also selected as finalists to host an NFL game.

In April 2021, the league announced at least four games every season would be part of the International Series, with the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Canada named as possible host countries.

Canada previously hosted NFL games from 2008 through 2013, when the Buffalo Bills played eight home games, including two preseason contests, in Toronto as part of a separate agreement between the team and the Canadian city two hours to its north.

In 2019, Goodell told Ben Fischer of the Sports Business Journal there was no shortage of interest from outside the U.S.

“The reality is that the demand for playing those games is greater than we have in the inventory,” he said. “But what we’re trying to do is, it’s a combination of the media, the events themselves and our partnerships.”

Based on the league’s choices so far, a four-team division in Europe would likely feature two teams in London and two in Germany.

While it would make the divisional scheduling far easier, there would still be some difficulties when it comes to U.S.-based teams traveling across the Atlantic or vice versa as part of an 18-week schedule with a single bye.

Goodell didn’t mention any timetable for the possible European expansion.

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