By Connor Fleck and Jeremy Torres
The NFL has been a passion in American sports for decades.
However, it has recently begun having a major impact internationally as well, as shown by the sold out NFL games in England, Germany, and Mexico this year.
The NFL began playing international games in 2005, but interest has seen a spike in recent years.
The NFL hosted its first German game on November 13 at Allianz Arena, home of FC Bayern Munich. What marked this game as special, more than the gameplay was the fans who were as entertaining as the players.
They all joined together, for example, to sing “Country Road” by John Denver, forming one of the loudest and most interactive crowds at any NFL game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Seattle Seahawks with a final score of 21-16 Munich, Germany. The game was nothing short of entertaining, keeping the viewers on the edge of their seats with a back and forth battle going on for four quarters.
But this is just the beginning for more international games.
With over 3 million people waiting to buy tickets for a stadium only capable of holding around 80,000 people many may have to watch from home, according to ESPN.
The sheer amount of people waiting in line to purchase tickets almost took down the entire site selling out the tickets in seconds. It was one of the most anticipated games of the year.
According to NFL Commissioner Roger Godell, there will be four more Germany games over the course of the next four seasons.
“That was one of the greatest football experiences I’ve ever had,” Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said to NBC sports. “I think the fan turnout was incredible. It felt like very electric from the time we took the field.”
Soccer fans around the world are known as some of the most committed fan bases.
So it makes sense that Godell would expand the NFL regular season to places like Germany, London, and Mexico to bring the experience of football anywhere he can.
“We’ve proven clearly that the level of support is here from a fan perspective, a stadium and stadium ownership perspective and from a city and government perspective,” Mark Waller, NFL executive vice president of international games, said to Sports Illustrated. “We’ll get a lot of support if and when we need it.”
There have already been several games played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. The Minnesota Vikings played against the New Orleans Saints on October 2. The New York Giants went up against the Green Bay Packers on October 9. The Denver Broncos played the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley stadium on October 30.
The San Francisco 49ers battled it out against the Arizona Cardinals on November 21 in Estadio Azteca, in Mexico City, their first time playing in Mexico since 2005.
The NFL still has a lot to iron out in terms of international play, whether there are teams from other countries, whether it becomes a part of regular season play, and so forth.
The future is certainly bright for this American sport, and no longer just in the United States. Watch out European football, American football is coming.