It’s always fun to look at the tiny differences between the United States and England. We drive on the right side of the road; they drive on the left. We have trucks and strollers; they have lorries and prams. We watch The Bachelor; they watch Love Island. (Actually, I watch Love Island too.) But strangest of all? In England, every NFL game is Thursday Night Football.
Since 2007, the NFL has exported games to England in an attempt to expand its international audience. The league even struck up a deal with Tottenham Hotspur, the Premier League team your friend roots for because they wanted to pick a club that was reasonably good but didn’t want to pick one that had recently won a championship. The NFL helped fund the new Tottenham stadium, which was specifically designed to host NFL games. When the World League of American Football’s London Monarchs played at Tottenham’s old stadium, White Hart Lane, they had to play on a 93-yard field. (The end zones were very small.) The new stadium has locker rooms big enough to fit 50 guys and an artificial turf football field under its grass soccer pitch, which retracts. The NFL is committed to playing games at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a decade.
This is a valiant idea. It’s hard to imagine football becoming more popular in the U.S., where it already dominates the sports and cultural landscape. But there are no other countries on Earth where American football is the most popular sport. While this experiment makes sense, though, the league’s execution has been baffling: Whether by choice or accident, the NFL has shipped the ugliest games imaginable overseas.
Sunday brings the 30th NFL game played in London. None of those 30 will have featured two teams with winning records. In any season, roughly half of the league’s teams have winning records, so you would expect about 25 percent of games to be between teams with winning records. There are 14 NFL games in Week 6, and five fit that description. How could they play 30 games in London and not have a single one between two winning teams? Is the NFL taking the piss?