Following the success of the first International Series game this season between the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the anticipated popularity of the Jacksonville Jaguars vs San Francisco 49ers match at Wembley later this month, the NFL have announced that there will be three more games in London next season.
More teams to touchdown in the UK
The games, which have yet to be scheduled, will feature the Jaguars, the Atlanta Falcons and the Oakland Raiders as the ‘home’ teams, whilst their opponents in the games are also yet to be announced.
The International Series, which takes NFL games abroad, has been in London every year except the first, where it was played in Mexico, but the British fans have responded in force, with the only attendance under 80,000 being in 2011 for the Chicago Bears vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Another huge crowd is expected, with tickets completely sold out as fans clamour to see the beaten Super Bowl finalist 49ers, demonstrating the rising popularity of American Football not only in the UK, but also in Europe too.
Fans responded to the news in a positive manner on Twitter, with interest in attending the games appearing the be as high as ever, and more and more fans being converted to the NFL as the presence of American Football in Britain is heightened.
To further emphasise the impact of the International Series, the 2013 NFL Draft saw the highest number of non-American players ever, as eleven players from all over the world were selected, including three Europeans, as England’s Menelik Watson, Germany’s Bjoern Werner and Estonia’s Margus Hunt were all picked in the top two rounds.
More and more Europeans are watching American Football and trying their hand at it, with two selected in the 2012 Draft – Englishman Jack Crawford and German Markus Kuhn, and this is now becoming an annual situation, where teams are selecting foreign players due to the immense global reach of the NFL, whilst there are already players in the league from Romania, Poland and even Scotland. Whilst NFL Europe, the NFL’s project in the 90’s and 2000’s in a bid to generate interest overseas, failed miserably, the foreign fanbase remains incredibly interested in the NFL.