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Stray Cats

by Robb Reel

I have an idea for the NFL.  It is neither new nor revolutionary, but I think it meets several of the league's needs.  I recently intimated that the Jacksonville Jaguars would move from a once-a-season trip to London to permanent placement across the pond.  I now have a better option.

The NFL should have a travelling team.  Hear me out on this.  If the commissioner really wants a enduring global enterprise -- and every effort from Mr. Goodell points to that -- then it's time to put a franchise where his mouth is, so to speak.  It's an easier prospect than one might think.

Let's start by keeping the one game per season in London.  Maybe we could even broaden that to one game in Europe.  Play in Edinburgh one year, Dublin another.  Go back to many of the NFL Europe cities such as Barcelona, Berlin or Frankfurt.  With the drug-testing policy, Amsterdam probably wouldn't be the best idea though.

Next, put a game in the Pacific Rim.  A Tokyo trip has happened a few times already.  How about Beijing or even Sydney?  Honolulu is always an option, as is Vancouver.

Add a game in Latin America.  Mexico City has hosted the NFL.  Monterrey is a great option, especially for the "home" game against the Houston Texans.  Why stop there?  Bueno Aires, Lima, and Rio de Janeiro are all large enough and probably better prepared to host a game than Jacksonville was to host Super Bowl XXXIX [2005].

Put a game in Toronto.  That would get Buffalo fans off the league's back, quelling rumors that their team is creeping toward moving there completely.  Of course, this plan would put the Bills on the hot seat as the next team to switch cities, but never mind that for now.

Along with the four international games, there are places in the continental US that would make sense.  Of course, one of the four remaining games will go to Los Angeles.  We can stop being so disingenuous about how much gambling is intertwined with interest in the games and just play in Las Vegas already.  We could visit one of the cities that has temporarily hosted the NFL; San Antonio and Memphis were quite hospitable in their short stints for the Saints and Titans.

After all that, there could still be one game per season in Jacksonville, though I am not sure the Jaguars would want it.  Since January 2, 2012, the team has won a grand total of once in its home stadium: exactly one year ago today against Tennessee.  That's not my idea of home cookin' at all.

With travel and technology making the world so much smaller and more accessible, this would be easier to execute than ever.  The tour of cities would make a great ambassadorship for the NFL and American football in general, broadening both the advertising and recruiting bases.  The biggest difference between this and any other occasion that a league has tried to do what I am suggesting is that the NFL doesn't have to do it.  Every previous attempt has been based on necessity from losing a venue or an owner, whether caused by economic or, as in the case of the Saints and Katrina, meteorological conditions.  The NFL is as strong as it has ever been and, with a neat number of teams at 32, this is the smartest way to "expand" without actually expanding.

Judging by the losing record and poor attendance in North Florida, the Jags are all but homeless.

Maybe this way we could finally see this stray cat strut.

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