Cleveland and other NFL teams shouldn’t be forced to play overseas

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 22: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns throws the ball during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore defeated Cleveland 31-15. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 22: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns throws the ball during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore defeated Cleveland 31-15. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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The Cleveland Browns get to avoid going to London in 2020, but the NFL should end the practice of sending teams over to England permanently.

The European expansion of the NFL has never been a good idea in any model that the NFL has tried. Whether it was NFL Europe in the ’90s or the NFL’s half-assed attempts to send games over to England during the season. This year five games were set to be broadcasted from London or Mexico City, but the NFL has made the decision to pull all of the international games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully that means the Browns won’t have to go to England this year.

The league has teams sacrifice home games in order to go abroad, and that means fans in these given cities are robbed of a home game in a given year for an expansion process that never produces anything meaningful. It often ends up being an exhibition of poor performances. With the league canceling all foreign games this year, it should be a win for fans. Yet the fact remains that there’s a chance that fans still won’t be there to start September. Thus negating the usual backlash against moving the games to London and Mexico City in the first place.

It’s a philosophy that needs to change and stop entirely, however. It shouldn’t be the cities responsibility to give up something for international markets. International markets, mind you, that still haven’t glommed onto football as they should’ve after 13 years. The same is true for the Mexico City games, which is only in year-five of its expansion process.

The games are often poor, with players being rattled by the extreme conditions in Mexico City or the time change in London. If the NFL uses the new 17th game from here on out to play the international games, resulting in cities still retaining their eight regular-season home games, then fine. That doesn’t seem to be the plan, however. At least not that we’re aware of.

Had the Browns gone to London, it would’ve been as the visiting team for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who was expected to make two trips to London this year. If any team should go to London to get games, it’s the Jaguars. That’s just it though, no team should have to.

If the league wants to send teams to London and Mexico City, then maybe it’s time to invest in new teams.

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