The NFL is returning to play in London on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, after a year-long hiatus. Casual American football fans might wonder: Why are some NFL games held in London in the first place? Here's what you need to know.
Why does the NFL play in London? What's the long-term goal?
According to an official NFL press release, the NFL London Games officially began in 2007. There have been 30 games over 14 consecutive seasons so far, until the London Games were postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But luckily, the league returned to its beloved tradition in 2021, and it looks like things will stay the same in 2022.
The two teams playing in the Oct. 2, 2022, London game are the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints. The games will be held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Two more games will follow, with the New York Giants taking on the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 9 and the Denver Broncos facing off against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 30.
The NFL hopes to establish American football as a "permanent presence" in London.
According to a 2017 report from Sports Insider, the primary objective of the NFL London Games has always been to establish American football as a permanent presence in England.
The way this would be achieved? By placing an NFL team in London full-time and having an eight-game London season. Then–NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller told Sports Illustrated at the time why he believed this was a viable option for the future.
"If the team had a second base on the East Coast, and when they came over to the States they were going back to a familiar place, there’s a general feel [among teams] that it would solve a vast number of the operational issues, whether it’s transportation issues, talent issues and making sure week-in, week-out, you have the talent you need on hand, increasingly there’s a belief that’s the right solution," Waller stated.
Of course, a permanent NFL London team hasn't happened as of yet. To be fair, Waller said in the 2017 interview that he thought the prospect of a permanent London team would have been "doable" around 2022, but that was before the COVID-19 pandemic turned our world upside down in 2020. Nevertheless, it could still be in the cards sometime in the future.
Now, the past London Games have had sold-out crowds; however, the jury's still out on whether they've actually been profitable for the NFL. There has been speculation on the profits, but no official confirmation from the NFL as of yet.
All three NFL London games kick off at 9:30 a.m. EST.