The US Women’s National soccer team is taking Europe by storm. After conquering France, the women face England this week for a chance to compete in the World Cup final. Have a good cup of tea ready for this Independence Day week showdown.
Seeing an American sports team in the global sphere is exciting, and the NFL also clearly wants to reach the global audience. For the 2019 season, five international games are scheduled, with four in London and one in Mexico City. Despite the early start times and the jet lag and fatigue a London game might bring, the international games have been fruitful. These games allow the teams, and the NFL as a whole, to expand their brands, connect with fans worldwide, and experience another culture.
By the end of the 2019 season, 31 teams will have played in London. The holdout team? The Green Bay Packers.
The reason the Packers haven’t traveled across the pond is simple: $$$. A trip to Lambeau Field is a pilgrimage for many NFL fans. Losing revenue from a home game would be detrimental to the local economy. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, each home game is worth roughly $15 million to the small market. Visiting teams feel the same financial pressures because of how well Packers fans travel. Recall last year’s game in Los Angeles against the Rams, where the tide of Green and Gold could fool anyone into thinking it was secretly a home game.
Mark Murphy is on record as wanting to play in London, though he is adamant on not giving up a home game to do so. Murphy answered a fan’s question on the topic, stating, “In 2019 and 2020, we will play the following teams on the road: Giants, Cowboys, Chargers, Chiefs, Saints, Buccaneers, Colts and Texans. One of these games should represent our best chance to play an international game by 2020, as it is unlikely that NFC North opponents would give up a home game against us.”
Aaron Rodgers would love the opportunity to play in London, though he echoed Murphy’s sentiments regarding why it hasn’t happened yet and hopes the NFL can create an opportunity for the team. In an interview with NFLUK, he discussed the benefits of playing in Europe, including the opportunity to explore a new city and connect with the Packers’ bars across the continent.
While fans may have to wait for a London game, there are other possibilities for international games closer to home. As previously mentioned, Mexico City hosts an NFL game every year since 2016 (last year’s was canceled due to field conditions). Mexico City is in the Central Time Zone and would offer no more difficult travel fatigue than a game in the States. While the Packers aren’t yet scheduled to go south of the border, the travel logistics would be easier than London’s.
Excitingly, the Packers WILL play on international soil this year. The Packers will play the Oakland (for now) Raiders in Winnipeg this preseason. With the Raiders in a flux state as they prepare to relocate to Las Vegas, the NFL got creative, bringing this exhibition game to Canada.
Canada is an ideal place for the Packers to connect with, as the country features a familiar climate and many towns with a culture similar to Green Bay. This is an outstanding opportunity for the team to branch out and link with a wider audience. Even with this just being a preseason game, Canadian fans will likely leap at the opportunity to see a live NFL game in their homeland.
The Green Bay Packers are one of the most iconic franchises in sports. Even the most casual of fans know their identity as a small-market, fan-owned franchise and their lengthy history of success. Let’s hope the NFL provides more opportunities to share this historic franchise with all of Terra.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.