The Vikings will return to London next season as the NFL continues to expand its International Series.
The league announced a record four games will be played in London in 2017 with the Vikings and Browns facing off either Week 7 or 8 at Twickenham Stadium.
Here are five things you should know about the Vikings international competition:
- The Vikings were part of the NFL’s first expansion of the International Series in 2013 when two games were played in London. The Vikings beat Pittsburgh 34-27 in front of 83,518 fans at sold-out Wembley Sadium. Since the International Series began in 2007, 23 teams have played in 17 regular-season games in the United Kingdom.
- The Vikings are undefeated on foreign soil in four preseason games and the 2013 regular-season game. They first played overseas in 1983 in London, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 28-10. In 1984, The Vikings beat Chicago 28-21 in Goteburg, Sweden. In 1993, they beat Buffalo 20-6 in Berlin. In 1994, they beat Kansas City 17-9 in Tokyo. Then in 2013, the Vikings beat Pittsburgh.
- The Vikings’ 2013 trip to London was considered a “home” game, meaning they only played seven games in Minnesota during the regular season. The Vikings will be the visiting team for the 2017 game and won't have to forfeit one of their eight games at home in the second season at U.S. Bank Stadium.
- One of the goals of the International Series was to evaluate the possibility of starting an NFL franchise in London. Based on the Vikings' experience, that might be a bad idea. Mark Craig wrote in 2013:
After an eight-hour flight, a six-hour time difference and days spent adjusting to it all, the Vikings were a good team to ask about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s offseason comments about the possibility of having a franchise in London permanently.
“Oooh, man,” receiver Greg Jennings said Thursday, three days before the Vikings’ game against the Steelers at Wembley Stadium. “Here to the States and back every time you played a road game? Wow. That would be tough.”
Jennings thinks having a team based here would be “great for the league.” He also said he wouldn’t rule out signing with a London team, although Jennings is 30 and the word around the league is a London franchise wouldn’t happen until at least 2020, the year the current collective bargaining agreement expires.
“I think it could happen,” Jennings said Thursday. “But the travel, that’s the challenge. Being here all week is good for us this week because it’s Thursday and guys are still trying to acclimate themselves to the time change. And then the long plane ride. You think it doesn’t affect you until you try to do your normal everyday routine, like lifting weights. The weights feel a little heavier because your body is a little weaker and different things like that.”
The problems of putting a team here permanently don’t end with travel issues. There are higher taxes, a different currency, labor laws that wouldn’t permit drafting players, a likely fight from the NFL Players Association and whether the team would be an expansion team or an existing franchise. And those are just a few of the hurdles.
- According to a London resident from the Midwest and local newspapers, Brits don’t really care about the NFL, despite the league’s ability to sell out all but one game since 2014. Craig blogged in 2013:
We came back to the hotel late last night and struck up a conversation with a London resident from Wisconsin. His assessment of the Brits’ interest in the NFL games played over here: No one gives a hoot, he said. Only he didn’t say “hoot.” Only the “expats” give a hoot, he said.
“Expats” aren’t just Randy Moss. They’re what the locals call Americans. Of course, the woman who almost ran over columnist Jim Souhan with her bike as he prematurely stepped off the curb probably has a few other names for Americans wandering the streets over here.
Picked up the Times of London and no mention of “Ponder, Ponder, Ponder.” Or the Vikings. Or the NFL. But the coach of Manchester United is ticked and heads are going to roll.