NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media yesterday from the league’s annual Spring owners meetings, touching on an array of topics, which was naturally dominated by discussion of the new extra point rules, as well as potential changes to the game day protocols for handling footballs in the wake of the Deflategate scandal.
But buried within all of that discussion was an interesting tidbit about the league’s continued interest in expanding its global imprint, when Goodell acknowledged that there were discussions had about branching into Mexico specifically, among other countries, including Germany, which played host to five football teams for the defunct NFL Europe.
I wrote about the league’s support among its Mexican fans last month, where there already appears to be a solid base of interest from which to build. The Pittsburgh Steelers in particular enjoy significant popularity among our southern neighbors, having more fans within the country and a few NFL franchise have within the United States.
The Steelers, have, in fact, more fans in Mexico than the entire NFL has in the United Kingdom, where the league has been focusing its international efforts for the majority of the past decade.
The last time the NFL allowed Mexico to host a regular season game was during the 2005 season. The game, played in Mexico City, drew a regular season record 103,467 people to the stadium.
Perhaps in part due to the success that the league has had in bringing regular season games to England, with London set to host three regular season games during the 2015 season, Goodell noted during his press conference that there was “renewed interest” among the owners in bringing a game back to Mexico, perhaps sooner rather than later.
Back during the owners meetings held in March, where the topic was previously discussed, Mark Waller, the league’s executive vice president of international affairs, noted that the NFL has been working toward branching out beyond the United States, focusing on how to “accelerate the agenda in Mexico, Canada, and China”, where the league already has offices.
He also noted that Brazil and Germany, the latter of which, as already noted, has had significant league ties, are also on the map with respect to future expansion as the league continues to broaden its horizons beyond the borders of its home country.
But it seems obvious to me that the most logical launching point for an international expansion should indeed be in Mexico, which already has a tremendous amount of support among its population despite the league paying it less attention than perhaps it should have been.
Of course, opinions vary as to whether or not the NFL even has any business exploring opportunities beyond our nation’s borders. There has been serious talk about setting up a franchise in London by 2022, for example. But the league does seem committed to pursuing the business model, and with that in mind, it appears they are beginning to realize the potential value that Mexico could offer.