The NFL has global ambitions; Roger Goodell has made it more than clear that it’s his goal to have a franchise in London in the future.
However, the NFL has made a serious mistake with the international series, continuously flying a sub-par product over the pond, and this year it continued in the form of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars demolishing at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers was nothing unexpected, on paper it was a hilariously outmatched game and that translated on to the field 42-10 final score.
The game had an attendance of 83,559, a testament to the passion of the fans in the UK, who year upon year, turn up only to once again be let down by the NFL, and its inability to schedule a game that not only gives fans what they deserve, but represents the greatness of the sport.
The NFL is trying to build a more established fan base in the UK before it can even think about a franchise being moved to London. The Jacksonville Jaguars seem like the prime candidate for the move if is was ever to happen, and this was reinforced when the Jaguars agreed to play in the international series for the next four years.
However the Jaguars are arguably the worst team in football this season, they sit at 0-8 and are so devoid of talent that a turnaround in the next few years seems unlikely. This is not the team that the NFL wants representing its brand in the UK, they had an opportunity to entice more fans into the sport; fans that would embrace the Jaguars as “their team” and for that connection to grow for the next four years but that will fail if the Jaguars are not competitive.
The hardcore UK NFL fans all support their own teams, bringing a franchise over to London wouldn't likely convert many to abandon their team and begin supporting the London franchise.
This is why it was vitally important for the NFL to put on such an exciting brand of football at Wembley that the casual fan - or even people who knew nothing of the sport - would attend the games, be drawn into the sport and consequently the Jaguars.
But the Jaguars aren't converting anyone, even as loveable underdogs. There was such little bark against the 49ers that they are more likely to turn people away from the sport.
Sitting in the media lounge during the game it was depressing to hear the silence from the crowd. It serves as an injustice to the UK fans that are so passionate but will appear to be uninterested to people in the US.
However, no US fan could honestly say they would be any different if this level of play was forced upon them year after year.
Maybe Jacksonville will make a miraculous recovery to relevancy, it’s not unheard of and you can sure bet the NFL is praying that they do.
Next year, they will play the Dallas Cowboys, a good move by the NFL bringing over its most marketable franchise to keep interest in a game that could have really suffered after the show the Jaguars put on this year.
However, the Jaguars need to be able to bring in excitement by their own merit. The UK fans deserve more for their commitment, money and time. They deserve to see the game they love in all its glory at Wembley, not a shadow of itself.
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