Texans Believe An NFL Team Could Succeed In London

The NFL could one day expand to London

Adam Spolane
November 03, 2019 - 7:19 pm

Photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today

LONDON (SportsRadio 610)- On Sunday afternoon, 84,771 packed Wembley Stadium in northwest London to watch two NFL teams without much history. The Houston Texans, the league’s baby franchise, haven’t advanced to a conference championship game, and left their best player at home while the Jacksonville Jaguars have never played in a Super Bowl, inhabit a small television market and traded their biggest star weeks ago, yet the crowd was fully engaged during a dull 26-3 Texans win. 

“It was sick,” Texans safety Justin Reid said of the atmosphere. “It was loud. It was a great time. Fans really locked in. Heard cheering and chanting the whole time. It gave us energy on the field to hear them come out and bring that energy.”

Sunday was the fourth and final game of the NFL’s 2019 London Series which began in 2007. The league has played 23 games at Wembley Stadium and all but one have been attended by at least 81,000 fans. 

“We talked to a few buddies who already have played here and said the crowd is absolutely spectacular,” Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. “It was exactly that. We had a great turnout on both sides, Jags, and you had the Texans, also with some London fans as well. It was pretty loud throughout the game.”

The NFL’s venture into London began when Roger Goodell became commissioner with the thought being one day the league could one day expand across the Atlantic, and if it did, would it be successful?

"After doing it today it could possibly work,” Mercilus said. “Eight-hour trip, it’s a little tough. You gotta stay up the entire day when we come in, and that’s tough for any travelling team as far as that goes. If it happens to be that way, then so let it be.”

The Texans had a normal early week of practice before flying to London Thursday night, and they’ll get to reacclimate themselves to the six-hour time difference by enjoying their bye week next week, but the travel remains an obstacle of possible London expansion or relocation, though Reid believes that can be overcome.

“The first one or two years will be different, unique, but everything starts to fall into a routine once it’s established, so if that were to happen I’m sure after a while it just be normal.”

Mercilus said after what he witnessed at Wembley Stadium makes him believe a team in London would work, pointing out the Jags have dealt with the travel across the pond seven straight seasons.

“You’ve seen that stadium today, they were into that game,” Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph told SportsRadio 610. “It was a full house. Obviously, we brought a lot of Texans fans, but at the end of the day I think the more you come over here and display a good brand of football, they were into every situation of the game, they knew what was going on.”

Joseph spent part of his summer at the NFL’s London academy, helping to promote the league and participate in a skills camp for area kids. He certainly understands there are some hurdles, he believes one day, the NFL will have a team located in the United Kingdom’s capitol.

“It’s a great city. I don’t know all the things from a finance standpoint and everything else, but I think just from living everyday life the three or four days I’ve been over here, I’ve had a great experience, it’s a beautiful city, and I think eventually that will happen.”