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NFL Expansion: Are longer seasons and new cities on tap for the gridiron league?

The NFL saw off the challenge of the Alliance of American Football earlier this year. Although the AAF said it wasn’t a direct competitor to the NFL, it is unlikely the long-standing football league saw it the same way.

While the AAF was a flash in the pan and burnt out well before the first season ended, the NFL now has two important lessons learned from the short-lived football league.

The first is the excitement that football fans have to see more games and the second lesson the NFL learned was there are several cities hungry to have their own franchise.

Is the NFL expanding to an 18-game season?

The NFL has eyed a longer regular season for nearly a decade. In 2011, the players association shot down extending the season during negotiations of the latest collective bargaining agreement, however. According to CBS Sports, the NFL is once again looking at lengthening the regular season by two games.

The current CBA expires in 2021 and the expansion of the regular season is one of the topics high on the wish list for the NFL. The players association still may not be on board with adding two games to the schedule, but there are some team owners who want to play more football.

Although there isn’t a definitive number on NFL owners that want an 18-game season, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is believed to be one pushing for it. The NFL Players Association sees the added games as a negative for role and mid-level players who put their bodies at further risk for not a lot more money.

Perhaps higher wages will be the only thing to get the NFLPA to agree to more games.

Is the NFL expanding to new cities?

When the NFL competed against the United States Football League in the early 1980s, the established football league found several cities hungry for football. Jacksonville was one such city and in the 1990s, it got its very own team.

Phoenix also received a franchise when the St. Louis Cardinals relocated to the southwest. Now, it looks like the NFL could expand once more. But did the failed AAF inspire the NFL to add new franchises or is this simply organic?

Relocation has been thrown around in Buffalo as the Bills try to leverage the city to fund the building of a new stadium. If they go, they could also end up in one of these cities.

Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States thanks to businesses moving to town. There is a hunger for football that could make it a hot ticket. Any team would have to compete with the Texas University, which is a religion in Austin. Major League Soccer has already planned for an expansion team in the Texas town.

Just down the road from Austin is San Antonio who could also be a candidate for expansion. According to Sports Illustrated, San Antonio has a bigger television market than Kansas City and Cincinnati. It was also the home of the old USFL’s San Antonio Gunslingers.

Some have said the NFL should go right back to San Diego despite the Chargers just leaving the city. Rather than putting an expansion team in San Diego, the Chargers shouldn’t have been allowed to leave. So, putting a new team in San Diego would be a silly move right now.

The NFL has long eyed London as an expansion location. The interest in the NFL is high in England these days, but whether that interest would support an American football franchise long-term is debatable.

The game is still seen as something fun to do when the NFL games are played in London. Tottenham Hotspur Football Club’s new stadium, which opened earlier this year, was built to host NFL games.

About Drew Farmer

Drew Farmer
Drew’s work has appeared on a variety of sports and travel websites. He is also a published author having written the sports/travel book Soccer Travels.

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