Roger Goodell Wants NFL Expansion To Los Angeles And London

Roger Goodell wants to see the NFL expand to Los Angeles and London. One city seems like an obvious choice, the other not so much.

nfl-logo NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sees expansion in the NFL’s future, including a team on another continent:

Roger Goodell wants the NFL to return to Los Angeles and he wants to bring the league to Europe on a permanent basis. In no particular order. Speaking at a forum for European NFL fans Saturday on the eve of the 49ers-Jaguars game at Wembley Stadium, Goodell was asked by a fan about going back to L.A. and where it ranks on the league’s wish list compared to putting a team in London. “It doesn’t matter,” Goodell said. “I’d love to be back in Los Angeles,” Goodell said. “But it has to be done the right way, we have to do it successfully. … “I want both (London and L.A.), but it doesn’t matter which one is first.” The NFL has not had an NFL franchise in Los Angeles since 1995 when both the Rams and the Raiders relocated. If the NFL puts a team in London, it would be the only American professional sports league to have a team based in Europe. (…) Goodell is a huge proponent of playing in London. There will be two regular-season games played in London this season and three in 2014. The games are wildly popular and have been sellouts. “You are proving you are worthy of a franchise,” Goodell told the European fans.

An NFL return to Los Angeles seems long overdue. It’s quite simply too big a media market not to have a team, even taking into account the city’s sometimes disdainful attitude toward previous franchises. Since it seems unlikely at this point that any franchises are going to pick up and move as has happened in the past, expansion would seem to be the only way to pull that off. The London move seems a bit puzzling, though. Yes, it’s true that the NFL games that have been played at Wembley Stadium have drawn huge crowds in recent years, but I’m not sure that’s indicative of how an actual NFL franchise would fare there. It’s worth noting, for example, that the London Monarchs, the London franchise for NFL Europe (later named NFL Europa), folded after seven years and was not around for the final nine years of the league’s existence. Perhaps a team made up of more than the NFL’s development players will be better received, but that’s not clear at all. Additionally, the addition of an NFL franchise in England would lead to some real issues regarding scheduling and broadcast logistics that can’t easily be brushed aside. Nonetheless, it looks like the NFL has expansion on its mind again, which probably means that its going to happen in some form some day.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    If anyone is interested in some of the considerations,
    here’s a really good article

  2. george says:

    My understanding is that the NFL isn’t in LA because not many (or at least enough) people lin LA are willing to give tax payer money to build them a stadium. If that’s true, I’d say good for them – pro sports are a business, and should be able to stand on their own feet.

    And from what I remember of London, they’re quite football mad, but they mean association football (soccer), not North American football.

  3. Bob says:

    Another issue with London is the tax rates. Players aren’t going to be happy knowing that for every dollar above about $200K they make they’ll be paying a 60% tax rate on it.

  4. James Pearce says:

    Goodell wants to do what any modern businessman wants to do: tap into global markets. That doesn’t mean it will work or that it’s a good idea. Indeed, in this case, it’s not.

    Not only would a London franchise be logistically difficult to integrate into the current schedule, it’s not even clear an NFL home team in London would be the same kind of draw that special one-off games have been.

    The thing is, though, that if through some strange miracle, London does get a team and it doesn’t work, it will hardly be that big of a deal. Sell the team to some other city in the States. It’s just one franchise.

    But if it’s a success…..London now; tomorrow Barcelona, Paris, Munich, Rome, Moscow? Ka-ching!

  5. DC Loser says:

    I lived in the LA market when the Rams moved, and then the Raiders moved. The football fans then realized they weren’t forced to watch their mediocre hometeam’s games and the TV audience got access to better football games every week. If they wanted to, they could cheer for the 49ers or the Chargers.

  6. John O says:

    An interesting idea to add a 17th game to the NFL schedule with every team playing a neutral site game in either London or LA every year.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    London? How very East Coast Centric of Roger.

    No problem with going from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or any East Coast city, to London. However, good luck with a fabulous 11 hour flight from San Francisco, Arizona, Seattle or San Diego.

    That famous Saul Steinberg, New Yorker magazine cover from 1976 (how New York sees the rest of the country, looking west, beyond the Hudson River) still applies today.

  8. BIll says:


    No problem with going from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or any East Coast city, to London. However, good luck with a fabulous 11 hour flight from San Francisco, Arizona, Seattle or San Diego.

    They could have the team play a Eastern Std team before. However I agree the logistics are considerable and Goodell I think is overestimating the NFL’s potential audience over there.

    BTW I’m working on a novel set 20 years in the future and MLB has a team in Honolulu.

  9. Woody says:

    Los Angeles needs to serve as The Threat for every billionaire NFL owner to extract taxpayer money for stadiums built around corporate suites. For eight games (excluding playoffs and the hilarious pickpocketing known as “preseason”).

    Ayn wept.

  10. CSK says:

    Just an observation in passing: If the NFL expands to London (which i can’t see happening), wont they have to change the name to the INFL?

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Here’s another thought: how many NFL players have criminal records that might prevent them from being admitted into the UK? I realize they’re not quite the NBA for that, but still…

  12. Andre kanji says:

    Association football and American football are more similar than fans are willing to admit. I’m seeing an increasing interest for the NFL here in Brazil. Corinthians, a large soccer team also has an American football team(In fact, many teams of the Brazilian American Football League are owned by major soccer teams, so, that’s a possible model – a soccer team like Manchester United or Barcelona could run a NFL franchise).

    But I also think that creating foreign franchises of the NFL would require more than simply creating foreign teams, you would need polices to promote the sport. Here in Brazil the American football teams are being created by fans. Goodell should.create American football schools and high school leagues in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Few people outside the US plays American football because no one cared to promote it outside the US.

  13. Tyrell says:

    Let them use the Coliseum.

  14. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    London makes zero sense. Maybe the NFL likes the idea of global conquest while sissifying the game but the fans sure don’t.

  15. bill says:

    @al-Ameda: true, maybe put one in hawaii too! just the flight time from cali to london would put most teams at an extreme disadvantage unless they traveled after a bye week- then they’d have to get there a few days early and spend more money on hotels & such. i don’t see this happening, especially when they can’t even get LA to pony up for a new stadium/team.
    And would canada feel slighted, they’d seem logical for a team- despite the fact that they have a league already.

    @Jenos Idanian #13: they’d have to make them temporary diplomats or something, good point though.

  16. Rick Almeida says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The NFL already plays 2 games a year there with what seems to be no problems, so…maybe none?

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rick Almeida: Don’t be so naive Rick. The NFL is full of black people. It only stands to reason it would be full of criminals too. Can’t you see that?

    (end of sarcasm)

    I wonder why Jenos doesn’t ask the same question when ever an international banking conference is held in London?

    (ok, this time for real, EOS)

  18. Tyrell says:

    @Bob: Some kind of special ruling or exemption would have to be made. Those players are not going to give up 60% of their salary to the British government.

  19. stonetools says:

    The NFL would be better served by promoting the existence of a local American football league, in England and elsewhere. That would promote international interest in and therefore eyeballs on, the NFL games.
    An American football league in the UK would be the closing of a circle. After all, the American game evolved out of rugby, which was imported from England in the late 19th Century.

  20. Ron Beasley says:

    @al-Ameda: An over the pole flight from the west coast is not really that much longer than a flight from the east coast. That said the jet lag would be a bitch.

  21. Ron Beasley says:

    @Andre kanji: When I lived in Munich is the late 60s and early 70s the US military had a football league in Germany. There were normally more Bavarians in the stands than Americans and they loved it. Of course they hated the American beer that was served at the games but then so did I.

  22. Steve V says:

    @george: Yep, as an Angeleno I was proud of my city when it told the NFL to buzz off and finance their own stadium. Unfortunately I fear the city will cave to them at some point.

  23. Ron Beasley says:

    @Steve V: Here in Portland the owner of the Trail Blazers said he needed a new venue. The city said fine – you build it, although they did give him a few tax breaks and a good deal on the land. He did. Of course one of the upsides is since he owns the facility he is less likely to move the team.

  24. EddieInCA says:

    Born and raised in Los Angeles.

    Die hard Rams fan growing up. I go back to Deacon Jones, Roman Gabriel, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen, etc. LOVED the old Rams.

    When the Rams moved to St. Louis the Raiders moved into town, so I became a Raiders fan.

    Then the Raiders won a Super Bowl while In Los Angeles, and I, along with most of the city, was thrilled.

    Unfortunately, neither the Rams nor Raiders could draw enough fans to keep the teams in Los Angeles.

    The simple fact is that I don’t believe any NFL franchise will succeed in Los Angeles. I’m a huge football fan. Huge. You know how many Raiders games I went to?

    Zero. None. Nada. Zilch.

    The easy reason is that there is too much to do in Los Angeles. Given how hard I work, I’m not willing to give up 5 hours every Sunday to go to Downtown Los Angeles and watch a game. Too many other things to do every single weekend. I think too many Angelenos agree with me.

    I think if the NFL puts a team in the Los Angeles market, they will be forced to move it in less than five years.

  25. EddieInCA says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    The owner of the TrailBlazers if freaking Paul Allen. Net worth, somewhere north of 15.75 BILLION.

    A $250 million stadium – to him – is not that big an outlay – especially when compared to his yacht.

  26. 11B40 says:


    Me, I wouldn’t mind if Commissioner Goodell made an effort to have his players take off those adorable little skullcaps, that they’ve recently affected, during the playing of our National Anthem. With all the rules the NFL has about apparel, the where, when, and how it’s to be worn, one might think that there would be one about uncovering one’s head for a couple of minutes during a no doubt profoundly artistic (meaning no sheet music was involved) rendition of our Anthem.

    But then, as Madam Benghazi has so eloquently put it, “What difference, at this point, does it make.”

  27. the Q says:

    The myth that LA doesn’t support football is belied by the fact that USC averages 87,000 a game and UCLA 67,000, both would be in the top echelon attendance wise if they were in the NFL.

    LA does not like losers and stiffs – which Al Davis and Georgia Frontiere both exemplified on their way out of town in their pursuit of fitthy lucre.

  28. Robert C says:

    I hope roger godell reads this blog, but I don’t think he does. Call me old school, but this one is simple: NFL in London and I am done. No more MNF, no more Directv NFL Sunday ticket. Greed is not always good.


  29. Jeremy says:


    “Give it up for the Tokyo Samurai!”