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Andrew Whitworth: I would quit before playing for NFL team in London

Andrew-Whitworth-BengalsThe NFL is still hoping to some day have a franchise in London. If that wasn’t the goal, the league would not be so committed to holding games in England on an annual basis. This season, two games will be played overseas. And Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth is not happy about it.

When discussing the possibility of a permanent NFL team in London, Whitworth made it clear that he would never agree to be a part of something like that.

“I would hope that I was financially able to quit,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday. “That’s what I would hope because if I was my papers would be the first one in.”

Fortunately, at least one NFL owner doesn’t see it ever happening. Whitworth, who also happens to be the NFLPA team representative for the Bengals, said there are a lot of players who feel the same way he does.

“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.”

While Whitworth is the first player to offer such a forward take on the subject, I’m sure a ton of players would agree. Relocating from one city in the US when you have a family and network of friends can be difficult enough, let alone moving to an entirely new country. However, the 31-year old took it a step further, even saying that he would hate playing one game in London.

“I would hate it, but it is what it is,” Whitworth said. “But, one time it’s not fun but you got to do what you got to do. But I wouldn’t enjoy that, either.”

Traveling to Europe for a game in the middle of a season certainly isn’t ideal, but plenty of coaches and players have already had to do it. The Bengals have been fortunate enough that they have not been selected yet, but their day could come. Hopefully Whitworth cooperates and decides to board the plane if that day ever arrives.

Helmet smack to Around the League

Broncos-Niners Game in London Expected to Sell Out

It’s a good thing football is a little-known sport in Europe.  Otherwise, this year’s chapter in the NFL London series would probably draw the attendance of a Division 3 high school football season opener.

Generally speaking, fans in England make their way out to Wembley Stadium when the NFL comes to town because it’s a new phenomenon.  Europeans are passionate and informed about soccer but still learning about American football.  That’s probably why this weekend’s contest in Great Britain is expected to sell out, despite the fact that it’s a match-up between the San Francisco 49ers (1-6) and the Denver Broncos (2-5).  If you’d like to know more about either team, they’re both conveniently located in the bottom five of our Week 8 NFL power rankings.

It can’t get much worse than that.  In fact — given the way both teams have played lately — this game could be the worst of the weekend.  When the NFL first scheduled this game to be played in London, there’s no way they could have known the two would start out so poorly.  However, if they eventually achieve their goal of globalizing American football and expanding their fan base, they’ll need to send over a better product.

For now, just having a football game in London creates enough buzz.  Last year, 84,254 fans visited Wembley Stadium to watch the Patriots dominate the Bucs.  This year, another 80,000 are expected in attendance to watch the bottom of the barrel in the NFL.  With an increased knowledge of the NFL and the game of football, European fans will eventually figure out that the product their being sent is garbage.  That will either mark the end of this experiment, or force the NFL to put more effort into scheduling the right game for this annual event.

Niners Owner: Super Bowl and NFL Team in London is “Likely”

I sincerely hope Jed York‘s motivation for his latest comments was an attempt at boosting interest for this year’s NFL London game. His San Francisco 49ers will take on the Denver Broncos on Halloween in what has become a yearly event for the NFL. However, York not only expects the game to become more than an annual occurrence, he believes a Super Bowl will be held in England in the future.

What a disaster that would be. What’s next? Resurrect the NFL Germany game plan? If they want to try starting a team, I’m all for it. The NFL has been talking about it for a while now and I suppose it’s one of those situations where you won’t know until you give it a shot. I’d feel bad for the players who were drafted to London, but it would be an interesting experiment. As for the biggest American game of the year being held overseas — I’m not sure I like the sound of that. Here’s what York had to say during his recent trip to London, courtesy of ProFootballTalk:

There is easily enough of a fan base over here to stage two games a season. I think eventually there will be a Super Bowl outside the U.S. I couldn’t tell you when that would be. I can see it both ways. I’m not sure what will be first, a Super Bowl over here or an NFL team, but they both seem likely to happen.”

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NFL in London a Success?

Not long ago it was announced that the Giants and Dolphins would play a regular season game in London. Over on my show at NBX I quipped

Tickets will probably be going as fast as a Charlotte Sting sellout.

Well, I do have to say, apologies are in order. Turns out I was completely wrong. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes

According to the NFL, since the game was announced Friday, more than 160,000 fans, mostly in the U.K., have requested more than 500,000 tickets to the game. To gauge enthusiasm for the game, the league’s U.K. Web site invited visitors to register their interest in tickets at nfllondon2007.com. Traffic was so heavy, the league said, the site crashed several times, and the deadline to request tickets isn’t until Feb. 18.

I’m sure Roger Goodell is wetting himself over this – and rightfully so. But what about you? What about the fans of the teams? If this becomes a trend, do you want to lose the ability to attend a home game? Do you want your team to lose home-field advantage? I sure as heck don’t. I remember back in 1996 when Notre Dame played Navy in Ireland. The stadium was as packed as a 2002 Rutgers game. That led me to believe that there wasn’t a chance the NFL would be a hit in England. This news however makes me extremely concerned. Hey, I’ll let them have their soccer, but I’d like to keep my football, thank you very much. What about you?

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