This went somewhat un-noticed during all the media hype of the Olympics going on currently, but Goodell told PFT's Mike Florio that he wants the NFL to be an olympic sport.
If you've been watching the Olympics (or at least reading the killer coverage our guys have been banging out), you're fully aware just how ridiculous some of the sports being played in London are. To wit: the silly shuttlecock scandalthat went down this week in badminton.
The point here is really that badminton is an Olympic sport and football is not. That seems, at least in the spirit of gladiating and whatnot, kind of ridiculous. Fortunately, change could be coming: Roger Goodell told Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show Friday that American football should "absolutely" be an Olympic sport.
"Absolutely. We're already taking steps to gain that IOC recognition," Goodell said. "We have, I think, 64 countries that are playing American football now, and that's one of the requirements. That's been growing dramatically -- I think it was 40 just five years ago."
Naturally, no one in the NFL minds that this increase in worldwide football playing equates to many more people around the world wanting to purchase team-related merchandise. But the game truly is international (if you want a great example, see the podcast that friend of the blog Ric Silvestre does at NFLemPT.com, a Portuguese site dedicated to the NFL) and Goodell would love for that to be reflected in the international games.
Plus, look at what playing in the Olympics did for the NBA. Once pros started going to the games in 1992 with the Dream Team, the international popularity of the NBA absolutely exploded. And for Goodell and the NFL, joining the Olympics could certainly be a stepping stone to getting an international franchise in the league.
"Our point is just to keep growing the game," Goodell said. "We're having a tremendous reaction in London and the UK for the game of football, our regular season game over there is sold out again this year, we are seriously contemplating as early as 2013 playing two NFL games next season and I think we'll do that. It's a response to the tremendous fan reaction and the growth of the game. If we can continue to grow the game there and have the fan reaction that we have, there very well may be a franchise in London."
Obviously they'll continue with the UK series, which will be the real impetus for getting a franchise across the pond. But the continued push to get American football in the Olympics (and the laughable dominance of the USA in the sport for the short- and long-term future) will only help, as the NFL's worldwide popularity would grow exponentially.