Recently, based on comments made by commissioner Roger Goodell, there has been speculation that the NFL is actively trying to expand the influence of American football by establishing a permanent franchise in the UK. Steps towards that goal have already been taken, including an increasing number of games being played in Wembley Stadium each year, and the general feeling surrounding a possible move has changed from "if it will happen" to "when it will happen."
The reasons for an overseas franchise are obvious: more money, more visibility, and more fans. Europe is essentially an untapped market and the NFL is eager to take advantage. Unfortunately, lost in all the hubbub about expanding into new territory, the NFL has forgotten one important detail. How do the players feel about it?
According to Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the answer likely isn't one the NFL was counting on.
"I would hope that I was financially able to quit," Whitworth said. "That’s what I would hope because if I was my papers would be the first one in."
Whitworth isn't one to mince words. So just why is he so vehemently against re-locating "across the pond?" Because the general consensus inside NFL locker rooms is that--logistics aside--such a move would put a damper on their enjoyment of the game.
"I don’t see that a lot of guys would want to do that," he said. "I don’t see any players that would enjoy that. Sure, you may find a handful of guys that say, ‘Oh hey, that’d be cool,’ but the rest of them wouldn’t."
With half of their games played an ocean-length away, it's not hard to see why players would feel that way. As usual, the NFL will probably still try and do what they want in this case, but as Whitworth points out, they'll certainly face an uphill battle attempting to get their employees to follow their suit.