Players not sold on London franchise

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
10:00
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For the first time in NFL history, the NFL will stage two regular-season games in London during the same year. The first of those matchups is Sunday, when the Steelers play the Vikings.

It's widely speculated that the NFL would like to place a franchise in London, but what do players think about playing full-time on the other side of the Atlantic? Our NFL Nation reporters sampled opinions among several teams with media availability Tuesday:

[+] EnlargeNFL London
AP Photo/Matt DunhamThe Steelers and Vikings are playing this week in London, but what if the city had a team full-time?
Eagles center Jason Kelce:

“I think it would be awesome. The biggest thing the league has been trying to do is globalize, to spread to other countries. NFL Europe didn’t really work out too well. So I don’t know what the marketing people are getting back about whether it would be successful.

“But that’s the one thing football doesn’t have, that global area. It’s one of the things that’s cool about soccer and the World Cup. You have that country camaraderie behind it, whereas America, it’s kind of our own deal right now. Anything that’s spreading the NFL to other countries, I think it’s a great idea.

“Might be different for guys with families. But how much different is it from going from California to New York or New York to London? It’s still a pretty good trip either way you’re looking at it.”

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 [2008], 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."

Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross:

"No, because I'm American. I'm just kidding. I wouldn't because I have family and kids and stuff. If you're a young guy, it would be a cool experience. They're only as far away from the East Coast as Seattle is."

Lions tight end Tony Scheffler:

"Me personally, no, I don't think I would do that. Just personal preference. I'm not a big worldly traveler. I consider myself more of a homebody and that sort of thing. I think it would just be too out-of-the-box for me."

Lions wide receiver Ryan Broyles:

"That's tough to say, man, to be honest. I've never been to London. It would probably be kind of cool. I wouldn't mind playing over there for a weekend. But to change my whole life around, I don't really know about that right now."

Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes:

“How are you going to do that? They still have to make eight of those road trips. Nah, I can’t see that happening. It’s cool for one game, but I can’t see it just being all teams in America and one London team. How long of a flight is that? What if they have to play the Raiders?

“I don’t know all the ins and outs of it, but that would be weird. Outside of people who have no choice, it would be hard. If you got the Giants that want to sign you and the London whatever [nickname], I’m going to just stay in New York. My family is in America.

“What about OTAs? What about minicamps? You would really have to move to London. I don’t know. That would be tough with family. We started in April. London is a cool place, but I don’t know. That would be weird.”

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