An American Pigskin In London: Jets, Dolphins Head To U.K.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Time now for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: Is London calling the NFL? The New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins play this weekend at Wembley Stadium, where men in shorts usually play footee. The game's expected to be a sellout. The NFL will play three games in London this year. Could London get a team before Los Angeles? We're joined now by Andrea Kremer, correspondent for HBO's "Real Sports" on the NFL Network. Andrea, thanks for being with us.
ANDREA KREMER, BYLINE: It's great to talk to you, Scott, and I'm very happy to have heard that familiar sports theme because I don't know if I've ever had a lead-in that involves topless women. So I was very happy to...
SIMON: (Laughter) That's quite a statement coming from you.
KREMER: There you go.
SIMON: Britain's treasury chancellor, presumably with his pinstripes on, says he wants an NFL franchise in London in five years. What are some of the practical challenges, though, of having a team that's based across the ocean?
KREMER: Yeah, that sounds like wishful thinking. Look, this international series with the NFL playing games in London started in 2007. And it's grown every year, and in fact, they're expecting 84,000 people tomorrow at Wembley for the Jets and the Dolphins. And it's a big weekend in the U.K. for sports. You've got Arsenal versus Manchester United. You've got the Rugby World Cup. So where does the NFL come into play? Look, it's hard to conduct league business; there are logistical hurdles. Tuesday in the NFL, you always check out players that are available, free agents - street free agents as they call them. You can't possibly do that across the pond. You have to have the business of a team centered in the United States, and then if you're going to start playing, you know, six hours away - and that's on the East Coast...
KREMER: ...Not including the time difference, it's going to be very, very challenging. But what the NFL usually wants, the NFL usually gets.
SIMON: Now, I assume they've run the number - I mean, London would become - at least as I figure it - certainly the largest single-team NFL market. I guess they think they can rake in the pounds.
KREMER: Well, yeah, I mean - that's what it always comes down to. I mean, you've got a commissioner who has said that within the next 10 years he would like to grow the National Football League to a $25 billion - that's B, billion dollar industry. So I think it's definitely possible, but there are a lot of challenges that have to be represented. Plus, you know, right now different teams go over. So you can be a Dallas Cowboys fan, but you're still going to watch the Jets and the Dolphins because you like NFL football. But how do you really build a fan base? I think that's going to be a big challenge as well.
SIMON: Yeah. Quick question now - well, not so quick. Coca-Cola, Visa, Budweiser, McDonald's - they've now all called for Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, to resign after Swiss criminal proceedings have begun against him. I don't think though they've actually withdrawn their sponsorship of international soccer games - the ads, right? Would that say more?
KREMER: No, they have not withdrawn their sponsorships. And remember, even someone like Visa and even dating back to May when some of these sweeping changes at FIFA were called for, Visa's agreement runs until 2022. So, you know - you've had Sepp Blatter, who has been quite defiant and adamant - anyone that knows him would completely be unsurprised by that posture - saying that, you know, he still does not intend to resign before his stated goal of next February. And he looks like he's prepared to call the bluff of the sponsors. You know, look, even back last year with the horrific year that the NFL had, they still never lost any major sponsors. But there was one situation where the Minnesota Vikings before they actually, you know, put Adrian Peterson on hold for the whole season, they did lose a sponsor - one of their local sponsors. And they acted quickly. The next week, Adrian Peterson was basically gone for the whole season. That's the only precedent that I've seen. But, you know, look, Sepp Blatter could still be suspended by the FIFA Ethics Committee, but, Scott, no one has ever accused ethics and FIFA of being in the same sentence.
SIMON: Andrea Kremer. You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.