The Only Proper Plan For NFL International Expansion - Part 2
What few die hard NFL fans are left in Western New York can have a new team nearby that they can cheer for: The Toronto Mounties.
As one of the four new members of the NFL International Conference, Toronto is a huge and lucrative market for the NFL. It is a market that is too big and too important to be just tossed an occasional preseason snorer or low-ranked single regular season game every once in a while. Toronto is a phantasmagorical sports town and given its own true hometown team, the Canadian fans will most certainly rise to the occasion and line the NFL's pockets with plenty of Canuck Bucks (now at par, dudes!)
The second team in the International Conference is obvious: It has to be the London Kings. Although I love the idea of the Crowns playing a preseason game in Glasgow and the other in Manchester, it simply has to be a London team for the regular season. Distances in the UK are much closer than in North America, and if you don't hit too much traffic you can drive to all three cities in just a few hours. The fans are used to shuttling all over the nation following their soccer teams anyway.
The third team in the International Conference has to be the Mexico City Aztecs. Remember that the NFL has never held a game anywhere in its history that drew more fans to the stands than in the Mexican capital. Mexico is a superlative NFL market and the Aztecs could easily be the biggest-drawing and richest team in the league in very short order.
The fourth team is more of a "Hail Mary:" It has to be the Tokyo Emperors. The NFL has not even begun to tap the enormous potential of the Japanese market and if they play their cards right, then the Emperors could easily challenge the Aztecs for the SuperMoneyBowl. The ticket prices that could be charged in Tokyo would dwarf the outrageous ticket prices at Toronto's Skydome and we all know that there is only one thing that truly motivates the NFL and that's cash!
Now we have the four teams in the new International Conference but... how do they play and who do they play and how do they...
OK, let's look at the way that the International Conference can fit seamlessly into today's two conference, eight division league. It's actually quite simple.
Each team in the NFC and AFC continue to play 16 games in the USA. Eight home, eight away. No change there. However, two of the preseason snoozefests get turned into regular season games, and they get played against the International Conference: one home, one away.
So let's pick a team, any team... the Tampa Bay Bucs since today they're in London anyway. So the Bucs continue to play their NFC South opponents, one home, one away. However, there are two more games included in the schedule. They fly back to London to play the Kings, and then host a home game against the Aztecs.
What happens is that every team in the NFC and AFC maintains its normal current schedule, but adds a home game and an away game against the IFC, subject to byes and other numerical shuffling.
The critical part is this: The IFC only plays the NFC on even years and the AFC on odd years.
Why is that? For the playoffs, of course!
The playoff schedule takes the IFC into consideration as an integral part of the conference that it played exclusively during the season! Therefore, the Toronto Mounties could make the playoffs as part of the AFC in 2013 but as part of the NFC in 2014!
It's completely fair as although the current US teams in the two existing conferences would have a 20% smaller chance of making the playoffs, it would only be every other year, with the opposing conference taking the hit the next year!
It's a plan in perfect balance. 18 games per year: 36 teams. Let's play ball!
Now we have a truly workable plan for the international expansion, Commissioner Goodell, all we need is to appropriately compensate the originator of this plan, yours truly. Start writing that big check and make sure you spell my name right!