LONDON, U.K. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are making their second trip to London since the conception of the London Series, a feat no other NFL team has accomplished and the NFL is ready to make the Bucs global.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said today that he would like to see the Buccaneers become a “global franchise” and would like to see the Bucs call London a second home.
Tampa is making their second trip and that might be a huge reason why they have such a major following in the United Kingdom. Another reason might be that the Glazer family, who own the Bucs, also own Manchester United who are basically the Yankees of European Football (yes, the other kind).
“Obviously, the Glazer family has an interest over here with Man U,” Goodell said. “And I think they want to see the Bucs become a global franchise. And I think that’s a great thing for Tampa. I think it’s a great thing for the NFL.”
If the only reason Britons have latched onto the Bucs is their familiarity with them since they’ve played there twice then so be it. But this is so much more than that. Remember in grade school when the Yo-Yo guy came and everyone bought the Yo-Yo’s because it was the popular thing at the time? Or the Science Guy came and then science was the cool new thing? Tampa’s popularity in London seemed like a case of this the first time around but the same fans are coming out the second time around which is proof of the stong following across the pond.
Tampa was just in the right place at the right time and it has blossomed into a second home for the Bucs, an idea Roger Goodell and the NFL are thinking of actually making a reality.
It’s no secret that the NFL has wanted to expand internationally and have talked seriously about putting a team there. This would be next to impossible to maintain as the week-to-week schedule of travel would make it impossible to satisfy a traditional NFL schedule. The only way it could be logically done is to either get the London team out of London and to the states as soon as the game is over (ala what Tampa did after the Saints game) or to load the schedule in halves where the first eight weeks are London games and the final eight after the bye are in the States but the competitive integrity of a top heavy home schedule is skewed.
Next best plan: just ship a team over there every year as a tradition and make it a home game. And who better than the Buccaneers who already are considering Wembley Stadium to have a home field advantage feel. After all, Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik points out that a flight to London from Tampa is only two hours longer than a flight to Seattle to play the Seahawks.
But right now, this is all just hypothetical.
“If it gets to the point where they talk about putting a team here one game each season on a consistent basis, certainly at that point it will be [a discussion],” said Dominik, “but right now I’ve never heard and certainly have never had a conversation about that being us.”
But even though it’s just a hot talker, doesn’t mean it’s not an intriguing idea. The Buccaneers are not neccesarily hitting a home run in terms of revenue in the Ray J, and the added revenue of a sold out London game can only help. Who’s to say if the Bucs subtract a home game from the Tampa area, add it to London that the revenue evens out and Tampa is able to spend more, get really good and fill the other 7 home games up as sell outs?
If nothing else, the one London game a year would mean the Bucs fans in the greater Tampa Bay area would get 9 televised games a year rather than just eight road games.
Nothing may ever come from this conversation talker, but it’s not a bad idea either. There will be the knee jerk reaction by the non-common sense fan who will cry out in terror that one London game a year will soon snowball into three then four and before you know it the Bucs are no longer the Tampa bay Buccaneers they’re the London Buccanners.
Stop that right now.
One game a year doesn’t mean Tampa’s relocating. It just means the Bucs are gaining global popularity which is only a good thing for the fans in Tampa who love their Bucs so much.