When the NFL wants to ram something down the throats of players they use the same tactic: slowly implement something, expand it, and the next thing you know you have players complaining that the game is turning into flag football.
In the case of a London franchise, that’s what what’s happening to a tee. There was one game in London, then two, and the only thing left is to announce that the Jaguars are moving to London in [insert any year in the next 5 years].
Players obviously see it coming and some of them aren’t happy about it. Namely, the players that are in London as we speak for the first of two games the NFL has decided to have this year as part of their “get a NFL franchise in London” master plan.
ESPN’s NFL Nation has quotes from Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles players. Many of which contain the words “No” and “Oh no”.
Eagles linebacker Trent Cole:
“All your family is back in the United States. Who would do that? You wouldn’t have a good team because I don’t think too many people would want to do that. Play in London, away from your whole world and your family?
“They’re going to have to go get some rugby players. That would be cool. Get some rugby players, have them get some equipment on, drug-test all of them.”
Eagles cornerback Cary Williams:
“Stay in America, man. Let’s worry about the Jacksonville Jaguars not getting the fans out there. I don’t know. It’s cool to go across the water and all that. It’s cool for a trip, but you don’t want a franchise out there. To me, that doesn’t make any sense when you already have a couple franchises that need help.
“If I had to, it’s what my job requires. No disrespect to England — it’s all respect — it’s just, let’s fix major issues before we start going overseas. The Jacksonville Jaguars need fans. Let’s stay here in the United States. Try Mexico, at least.
“It’s cool. Some guys said it was a cool place to play, and it was awesome to see fans around the world with your jersey on. That’s great. But I don’t know if we should have a franchise there. What if they have to play San Francisco — how long of a flight is that?”
Panthers running back Mike Tolbert:
“I would rather not, but if I had to, yeah. It’s just so far from home, my family, everything I know and have grown accustomed to. It’s a nice city. I played there my rookie year , but I would rather not play for a team permanently over there.”
Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson:
“If they paid me, of course. I haven’t been out of the country or nothing yet. I’d be up for the challenge … if they paid me.” Johnson has a six-year, $72 million deal with the Panthers. “More than I get paid here. You know what I’m saying?”
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith:
“Oh, no. The relocation that is required and the travel and all that stuff, you’re constantly on the road. The time change is brutal for the physical work we do. If it was a complete league out there, that’s a different animal. But to live in London and travel to the United States to play, whomever that team is, they’re at a disadvantage every time they hop on a plane. You’re basically six-and-a-half hours behind. You have to get acclimated, which requires not like a West Coast-to-East Coast or East Coast-to-West Coast, where it’s a day and a half and you can fudge it. You can’t fudge that. It’s a different element.
“If that happens, it’s a clear vision that they don’t really care about the players’ safety. They care about their pockets. And I think that is messed up.”
It must be said that a few players are fine with having a London franchise, but that doesn’t fit here so we’ll disregard those comments.