Wednesday, October 11, 2017
What if you could be the commissioner of the NFL and could just wave your hand to get what you wanted done?
That's the premise I'm using for what I'd love to do to the NFL involving franchises. The franchises have been in a mess over the past couple of years and I'd like to fix it. Does it live in the realm of reality? Nope. But I'd like to see it.
I'd also like to see the NFL add eight more teams. Yes. Eight. More. Teams. You'd think that the NFL would be able to support a 40-team league if the NHL can support 31 teams. There's plenty of players and plenty of owners lining up to buy in. Plus the NFL is desperately trying to grow the game internationally so we can cover that as well.
First thing is first. Let's get the current roster of teams squared away. The Chargers need to head back to San Diego after this disastrous attempt in Los Angeles. The city doesn't want them and frankly doesn't need them. Get them back to San Diego and do everything you can to make it work. Beg.
Oh, and the Oakland Raiders? You stay in Oakland. I know the Raiders have had a bad time with their stadium issues for 30 years but this team belongs in that town. Make it work. Whether you totally renovate their current stadium when the A's get their new digs or you build something that both teams could share or you have them play in Santa Clara with the Niners, make it happen.
The Rams will get to stay in Los Angeles.
So here we go:
London. Just get it over with already. I'm not a big fan of it but if the NFL is hell bent on playing three or more games in London every year then go ahead and put a team there. The logistics are tough, sure, but they can't be much more difficult than six teams having to adjust to it already. Putting a team in the UK would mean eight teams would be inconvenienced each year. So do it.
The NFL would enjoy being able to televise that extra game at 9:00 am ET, meaning for eight weeks a year they could own an entire day to football. Keep attempts to help the road teams with scheduling byes around those London trips and help the London team by scheduling longer American road trips. More on this later.
Las Vegas. The Raiders don't get to go there, but Vegas gets its team. Since the NHL opened up a jar to the Vegas area, the NFL seems like a great fit. Not only will the city get its own team with its own brand, but fans from visiting teams would love to take roadies out to Sin City to enjoy a good time.
Portland. The Pacific Northwest deserves a second team and Portland is the city that should house it. The city has been on the shortlist of possible MLB expansion and one of the cities that could host a relocated NHL team.
San Antonio. If Florida can house three teams and Los Angeles can have two then why can't football-crazed Texas have a third team? The Alamodome is set for some upgrades and the city has been the "threat city" when other franchises try to ransom a stadium out of their current homes. And, sorry, but I want to name this franchise the Oilers. They should be able to have the name and get those colors and uniforms back. It's a great NFL brand that died when the franchise moved to Nashville and became the Titans and when the expansion Houston franchise decided to become the Texans. San Antonio Oilers!
Mexico City. If we are going to put a team in London then why not in Mexico City? Mexico has a ton of football fans and the support would be there. Now, would the corporate dollars be there? That's a tougher question but Mexican fans both in Mexico and United States would support the team. Road trips (and the altitude) could be tough but it would fit time-zone wise. And if we are going to force some east coast teams to be in a division with London, then put some west coast teams in with Mexico City.
Toronto. Yes, another international city. Frankly, it is odd that Toronto doesn't have an NFL team yet. The most American of Canadian cities and one that has hosted regular season games already. Toronto has teams in the NBA, MLB and NHL so they would fit in well in the NFL.
St. Louis. Third time a charm? Look, the city supported two of the worst NFL franchises ever. The Cardinals were so bad for so long that it almost was a relief when the team left for Phoenix. And other than those Greatest Show On Turf years which came out of nowhere, the Rams were absolutely horrible before and after. Yet they had support. Hopefully they can build a franchise from the group up that is theirs. And hopefully this one can have sustained success.
Oklahoma City. The NBA has been a rousing success, so could the NFL be far behind? OKC has an interesting dynamic as the state is huge on football but Oklahoma City isn't the hub of it. Meaning, while the two big college football programs would still get love, having a pro team in Oklahoma City could combine the fanbases like they do in other NFL cities that have a huge college presence nearby.
AFC EAST: Buffalo, Miami, New England, NY Jets, Toronto
AFC SOUTH: Houston, Jacksonville, Mexico City, Oklahoma City, Tennessee
AFC NORTH: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh
AFC WEST: Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, Portland, San Diego
NFC EAST: Dallas, London, NY Giants, Philadelphia, Washington
NFC SOUTH: Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, San Antonio, Tampa Bay
NFC NORTH: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, St. Louis
NFC WEST: Arizona, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle
I tried not to move any teams out of their current division, but I did move one. The Indianapolis Colts aren't really entrenched in the AFC South both by rivalry or by geography. Plus, the Colts have moved from their longtime home to the AFC when the 1970 merger happened ... then moved out of the AFC East when the league realigned in 2002. Moving to the AFC North would work as they'd be closer geographically to their division foes (especially Cincinnati) and would have a rivalry of sorts with Baltimore, where the Colts called home for years.
So let's look at each division and the who, what and why.
NFC East added London. When we put this together, we have to figure out where London is going to go. You want the logistics to be the best it can be. The NFC East seemed like the best fit. For one, London was going to be in an East division. The NFC East has three teams that are tightly together geographically, so it would be more fair to send them to London each year than the AFC East. Sure, the Cowboys make this division even more widely spread, but each of the four teams are among the wealthiest in sports, play in world class cities and have the airports and fanbases that can make this happen.
AFC East added Toronto. Toronto should form a nice rivalry with the Bills and fits in nicely with the rest of the division. Since London went to the NFC East, the other eastern expansion team sits here.
AFC South added Mexico City and Oklahoma City. With the Colts moving to the AFC North, the AFC South gets two expansion teams. Makes sense since the makeup of the division is several younger franchises and/or NFL cities. Mexico City and Houston should form a decent rivalry, as they should with Oklahoma City.
NFC South added San Antonio. The main reason for this is that the NFC East and AFC South already had a Texas team so the NFC South seemed more like a fit for a new Lone Star squad. The NFC North gets St. Louis, who geographically fits with the teams already in the division. The city, via its first two NFL teams, is an NFC town.
Out west we put Portland in the AFC since the NFC West already has Seattle. That means the NFC West gets the new Raider-less Las Vegas team.