The Green Bay Packers have been vocal in their refusal to give up a home game to play in the NFL’s extensively growing international games, but it appears they may have to–sometime in the next eight years.
NFL owners voted, among other things, that every NFL team will play at least one international game every eight years. The Packers are the only team to not yet play a regular-season international game, though they’ve had a preseason game in the great north of Canada.
The small-town Packers have been interested in bringing the NFL’s best brand to new audiences, but the town’s economy gets so much value from their home games that it’s a big cost to give up a home game. And even away games are hard to move as opposing teams know Packers’ fans travel well and will pack their stadiums.
So what changed? The NFL owners voted on a 17-game season, providing an extra game that can be played outside the States. To compensate, the preseason will only last three games.
Packers CEO Mark Murphy said this of the situation, “We have been very clear that we were not gonna give up a home game … obviously under this proposal which was approved, we will be required to do it.”
He added that when the Packers do play overseas, it will be in a year where Green Bay has nine home games. The way the 17-game schedule works is the AFC and NFC will have the extra home game in alternating years. In an NFC year, the Packers will have nine home games, leaving them with the expected eight home games in Wisconsin and thus not giving up their usual revenue.
The AFC has the first round of home games in 2021, meaning the Packers won’t be playing overseas this year. The Packers will play the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021’s extra game.
The new schedule has been polarizing; supporters mention being able to see extra games and more paychecks for players while detractors lament the extra possibilities of injury, especially considering there is no extra bye week. The 16-game schedule made sense with the way divisions are built. Also odd numbers are weird.
One thing is certain: sometime in the next eight years, the Green Bay Packers will be coming to a different country near (or far from) you.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.