History of games outside of America

The NFL International Game Story originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Football is an American sport, but the NFL has worked to make it a global sport.

The league regularly held games outside of the United States. Although it has become a hallmark aspect of the NFL schedule through the international series, the history of games in other countries dates back nearly 100 years. Seriously, the Vikings-Saints game you’re about to watch with your morning coffee on Sunday has origins that date back to the 1920s.

So how long exactly has the NFL been going overseas? And how is the calendar organized to give different organizations the chance to participate in an international game?

Here’s a detailed look at the NFL’s international history, as well as some of the league’s plans for the future:

How many NFL regular season games have been played outside the United States?

Forty regular season games have been played outside of the United States in NFL history.

The very first professional football game played in another country took place on November 8, 1926, when the AFL’s New York Yankees beat the Los Angeles Wildcats 28-0 at Maple Leaf Stadium in Toronto. It took nearly 80 years for the NFL to stage its first regular season international game, “Fútbol Americano”. The Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-14 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on October 2, 2005.

The NFL founded its International Series in 2007, sending the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins to Wembley Stadium in London to kick off. The series has hosted 33 games in two cities and has been part of all but one NFL season since its inception. After canceling international matches in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league returned overseas with two clashes at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2021.

In addition to the International Series, one regular season game per season was played in Canada as part of the Bills Toronto Series from 2008 to 2013.

How many NFL preseason games have been played outside of the United States?

While the league turned away from regular season international play after the Yankees-Wildcats tilt, it has a long history with preseason international play. In all, there have been 52 preseason games between NFL and/or AFL teams played outside the United States

The first of these was played between the Giants and the Chicago Bears at Varsity Stadium in Toronto on August 15, 1960. There were two more intra-league preseason games in 1969 and three more in the 14 subsequent years, including the NFL’s first game. genre outside of North America. This preseason contest pinned the St. Louis Cardinals against the San Diego Chargers in Tokyo on August 16, 1976.

NFL international pre-season games became much more of a fixture on the schedule with the founding of the American Bowl in 1986. The initiative lasted until 2005 and featured up to four pre-season international games. season per year at its peak. The series brought teams to London, Tokyo, Montreal, Berlin, Barcelona, ​​Mexico City, Toronto, Dublin, Vancouver, Sydney and Osaka before being discontinued.

Two more pre-season international games were held in 1988. The Vikings faced the Bears in Gothenburg, Sweden for the Volvo American Football Classic, while the New York Jets faced the Cleveland Browns in Montreal for the Molson Challenge.

How many other NFL exhibition games have been played outside the United States?

Before NFL teams competed across the world, they faced teams from other countries.

The first game between an American team and a Canadian team was in 1948. The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League hosted the Brooklyn Dodgers of the All-American Football Conference and lost 27-1.

Two years later, the Giants visited the Ottawa Rough Riders in the first NFL-CFL exhibition. The NFL and CFL met in seven interleague exhibitions from 1950 to 1961.

Which city has hosted the most international NFL games?

London has been the site of the NFL’s most international games at 39. England’s capital has been the site of 30 regular season competitions, more than any other international city, as well as nine exhibitions.

Related: Ranking the 10 best NFL games in London of all time

Toronto (6) and Mexico City (4) are the only other cities outside the United States to host a regular season game.

Tokyo hosted the most NFL international preseason games at 13, followed by London (9), Toronto (6), Mexico City (6) and Berlin (5).

How does NFL international programming work?

Beginning with the 2022 NFL season, the league will host at least four international games each season. The league guarantees that each franchise will host one such matchup every eight years, winning a home game. Teams can also volunteer to organize international games.

With the league moving to a 17-game schedule in 2021, each conference alternates seasons in which its teams have nine home games and eight road games. For inter-conference away games, the home team will be the one from the conference where its organizations have the additional home game on their schedule.

NFL schedulers factor in international travel for teams. In many cases, franchises that play international games get their day off the following week.

Which NFL team has played the most games outside of the United States?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have used their passport a lot over the past decade.

The franchise played eight regular season games, an NFL high outside the United States. All eight of these competitions have taken place in London, with seven at Wembley Stadium and the most recent at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Jacksonville is 4-4 in London games. By comparison, the team was 36-101 in games played on American soil from 2013 to 2021.

After the Jaguars, the Buffalo Bills have the second most international regular season games with seven. Six of those were played as part of the aforementioned Bills Toronto Series before the team made its first trip in London in 2015.

How many times have the 49ers played outside the United States?

The 49ers have played three regular season games on international soil.

While the team lost to the Cardinals in Mexico City, the 49ers enjoyed greater success in London. They beat the Denver Broncos 24-16 at Wembley Stadium in 2010 and secured a 42-10 win over the Jaguars there three years later.

How many international NFL games will there be in 2022?

The NFL has five games scheduled for its International Series in 2022, and a new European city will enter the mix.

The league will make its first trip to Munich on Nov. 13 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Seattle Seahawks at Allianz Arena. This will be the NFL’s first regular season game played in Germany after the league held an annual preseason game in Berlin from 1990 to 1994. There will be four regular season games played in Germany from 2022 to 2025, including two in Munich and two in Frankfurt. .

The other four international tilts in 2022 will feature familiar locations. Two matches will be played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, while Wembley Stadium and Estadio Azteca will each host one.

The 2022 International Series features the Green Bay Packers’ first-ever regular season international game. They are the only franchise in the NFL that has yet to participate, and that will change when they face the Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Week 5.

Here is the complete international program for 2022:

  • Week 4: Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Oct. 2 at 9:30 a.m. ET

  • Week 5: New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Oct. 9 at 9:30 a.m. ET

  • Week 8: Denver Broncos vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Wembley Stadium, Oct. 30, 9:30 a.m. ET

  • Week 10: Seattle Seahawks vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Allianz Arena, Nov. 13 at 9:30 a.m. ET

  • Week 11: San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals, Estadio Azteca, Nov. 21, 8:15 p.m. ET


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