Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

24 Jun 2017

Oral History of NFL Europe

You may miss this on the ESPN website, but here's a really fun oral history of NFL Europe, ten years after it played it's last game. Some discussion of just how weird it was trying to put on American football games overseas, how excited the fans got, and what it did for young players looking to get game reps.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 24 Jun 2017

6 comments, Last at 22 Jul 2017, 5:52pm by CLN


by BJR :: Mon, 06/26/2017 - 7:16am

Fun article, but it would have been nice to learn more about why the league ultimately folded. The players/coaches clearly mostly embraced it, and the fan interest was there (in Germany at least). So why didn't it create enough revenue?

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 06/26/2017 - 8:21am

I haven't listened to the article but I always thought NFLE folded because Roger became commissioner and he felt the league cost too much and wanted to pursue the idea of international games.

Why didn't it create enough revenue? It's a lower-quality product, substitute NFL experience that did little to broaden the games appeal. Football is generally strong in Germany because of all the Airforce bases that are/were there. For the rest of Europe it's a minority/novelty sport and difficult to grow a fanbase. A lot cheaper just to send two real NFL teams over and pay the costs and compensate for loss of a home game.

According to this article it was losing $30m per year. That's an easy kill off for a new commissioner although I think there were a lot of non-financial benefits in having a developmental league, not least that no-one else can start one! Article states that Stephen Jones (Cowboys) think there might be need for another one.


by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 06/26/2017 - 11:05am

actauylly wrote article on nfl Europe in college. would be hrad to put here as all I have now is print out witjh grade on it and maybe couple comments from professor. not sure if was graded A or had number grade. some professors would actuallty give number grades on papers.

by andrew :: Tue, 06/27/2017 - 11:17pm

That was a very enjoyable read. I didn't even connect the dots to Andrew Luck until I got to his entry.

I also enjoyed the glimpse at Mike Lynn from back when he ran the Vikings.

I really wish they had continued it, having a developmental league was worth a lot and plus it helped players get to experience other settings that many of them might not have had a chance to. Another thing to blame Roger Goodell for.

by Theo :: Thu, 06/29/2017 - 4:19pm

The NFL Europe was great.
I manages to get 36.000 people into the Rhein Stadium and it attracted about as many people for an Admirals game as a mid-top league soccer game in the Netherlands.

It also helped a lot developing football in Europe, especially the Netherlands, UK and Germany.
The NFL lost maybe 30M a year (I don't know where that number comes from, but in the long run, had they stayed the course, it'd produce a good stream of football players from Europe.
Now, only one maybe a year.
If the NFL is concerned about a decline in US football participants, then digging into different markets is invaluable.

Maybe an NFL Europe is not the answer, but helping a cross country championship across Europe with the existing teams would be a great start.
The League is there already, all they need is help.

by CLN :: Sat, 07/22/2017 - 5:52pm

Fun read; NFL would benefit from a developmental league, especially for offensive linemen.