With the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins kicking off the NFL’s International Series this Sunday at Wembley, speculation about a team eventually moving permanently to the capital is again mounting.
This year the NFL will host an unprecedented three regular season matches in London and the sport’s popularity continues to grow this side of the pond.
But while ESPN analyst Louis Riddick believes the idea of a London team is “great”, the reality of having a permanent team in the UK will be fraught with difficulties.
“There’s a lot of logistics you’d have to work out from a travel perspective, from a team administration perspective,” Riddick, who played eight years in the NFL with four different teams, told The Independent.
Riddick also has seven years of experience on the staffs of NFL teams, as director of player personnel with both the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles and has also been a professional scout.
In short, he knows how NFL players and teams operate.
“There are a lot of things that you have to really try and think through. You can’t just fly players all over the place and not take into account their training and their rest. The idea is great, I’ve played over in London and I had a great time, but logistically it’d be a long process.”
An obstacle that constantly comes up in these rumours is whether players, the vast majority of whom are American, would be willing to live away from their families for such a large part of the year.
Riddick adds: “It’s really going to depend on the individual. There are a lot of young single players where it would not be something to beat them down too much and they’d be fine with it.
“There’s also a significant number of players in the NFL who do have families and it would be more of a challenge; some guys want to put down roots in the place where they’re playing.”
Riddick says that opposition teams would eventually get used to travelling to the UK to face a London team.
“NFL teams are creatures of habit, they want those type of logistical and administrative procedures to be as simple as they can, I don’t think it would be something that they’d necessarily look forward to; packing up an entire team and taking them overseas to compete, but they’d do it and most guys end up having a very good time.
“But for a visiting team to go over there, there are always going to be certain people who don’t like it, there will be certain people who take it as part of the job. I don’t want to speak for everyone and make a broad, sweeping generalisation. Some will like it and some won’t.”
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