by Ryan Meehan
Last week’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Buffalo Bills marked the end of a five year deal between the National Football League and the city of Toronto to have one regular season Bills game played across the border per year. Now, the NFL has provided the city of Toronto with an opportunity to extend this agreement until 2017. However, I’d like to settle this once and for all – There’s no need to do that. We don’t need NFL football in Toronto or anywhere outside of the United States for that matter.
While I do realize that this probably makes me seem like a huge tool as well as a hater of all things un-American, I do have a few reasons why I feel this way. And I have outlined them in true Dubsism form, so hear me out…
1) We’re giving them garbage
The current five year agreement that we’re giving our neighbors to the north involves the Buffalo Bills playing “home games” in Canada. While other teams have been rotated into this mess, the Bills have remained the constant during this half-decade time period. Why? I understand that when these contracts are agreed to, there’s no way for everyone involved to know exactly the level of quality that a certain team may be playing at. But herein lies the failure of a long term deal involving a single team: If that team blows, you’re contractually obligated to keep sending that team to another country. In this case, it’s a double whammy because it’s called the “Bills Toronto Series” so they couldn’t substitute another team in there even if they wanted to.
It’s also not really fair to the Bills. I don’t care how close it is to being a home game for them, it’s NOT a home game for them and mathematically makes them play two more away games per year. It makes for an uneven playing field, and most of the arguments involving rules or the like go back to said uneven playing field. Personally I couldn’t care less about the Bills as a franchise getting screwed as I have no opinion on any AFC East bottom feeder (and the fact that they were the ones who got themselves into this mess in the first place) but the idea of any team being put in that situation (especially with as much as management, ownership, and staff changes occur in the NFL) does piss me off as a fan.
2) We don’t HAVE to give them garbage
This one I can break into two separate subcategories: The first one focuses on the fact that there is nothing in the league rules that says that the NFL is required to have games outside of the United States. Obviously Der Kommisar has made it clear that he is very interested in not only putting games outside of the NFL, but also eventually moving a team there, which in my opinion is totally ridiculous. It’s called the National Football League, not the International Football League. There’s a reason that up until this point there hasn’t been any NFL franchises based on foreign soil, and the model appears to be working. So there’s no reason to do this whatsoever.
The Second subcategory is based around the thought that I brought up earlier which states that the team in question here is the Bills, year after year. Look, I get the fact that Buffalo is only about 86 miles from Toronto. I understand that there are a lot of fans that are willing to make the trip for their team, but why does it have to be the Bills? New England, both New York teams, the Redskins, the Ravens, Philadelphia, and the Steelers are all close enough to the Canadian border that it isn’t too far fetched that they could contribute to this insanely stupid idea. (And you could argue that the same could be said for the Lions and either of the Ohio teams) I am well aware that the franchise would have to agree to it first, but it’s become pretty apparent that Goddell can get any franchise to do anything he wants them to at this point. It’s sad but true.
Both of these points lead to the same school of thought – we don’t have to give them anything at all, and even if we feel that we have to give them something to appease the commissioner’s ego it doesn’t have to be the Buffalo Bills. And remember a few years back when we had that game between the 49ers and the Cardinals in Mexico City? Both of those teams have significant Hispanic fan bases, so there was vested interest in a game like that. But for some reason, we haven’t been back since. The same is true with Canada – both Canada and Mexico have another sport in their country that is more popular than football (hockey and soccer, respectfully) so it’s just another failed attempt at trying to Americanize a world that doesn’t always want what we want. If we continue to make attempts to put games in other countries, pretty soon we’ll have to worry about Hezbollah interrupting the halftime entertainment. Do you see how quickly this could get out of hand?
3) Fans shouldn’t have to travel out of their own country to watch their team play
Regardless of which of the aforementioned teams whom one might be a fan of that might be unjustly shipped to Toronto, there isn’t a good justification behind the reasoning that any team should have to get a passport when they’ve already bought season tickets. That’s just insane. Although most fans that have the money to afford professional football tickets probably have the money to keep their passport current and travel to other countries on a regular basis, it’s certainly not necessary for them to do so. And I don’t want to hear anything about how when fans have season tickets, they know that there will be one game played outside of the country. If you’re reading this and that’s your angle, you’re missing the point.
With our country about ready to fall off of the fiscal cliff, the last thing that we need to be doing is sending opportunities for these NFL cities to make money to a city that doesn’t need us to allow them to take advantage of those opportunities. I think we can all agree that Toronto is doing just fine by themselves, and that Buffalo is not the most well-off of American metro areas. And if Toronto isn’t doing fine, why is that our problem? It isn’t for America to iron out, and it definitely isn’t for the NFL to try and fix either. Keeping the league within our country’s borders is the right thing to do for the fans, who buy all of the tickets and the merchandise to begin with.
I’d also like to close this one by mentioning that there is no way on earth that it’s alright to shift the responsibilities of holding a major sporting event over to another country. What if something happens?
4) The history behind this scares me to death
When I first began to research this, I was shocked to see something that I didn’t expect to find: Not only has the NFL been sending games to Southern Ontario since 1959, from that year to 1961 they played interleague exhibition games. Yep, that’s right – in those years the Chicago Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills all faced off against the Toronto Argonauts. How the hell did that work?
On second thought, I’d rather not know the answer to that question because it might be depressing. (To be honest with you, I stopped when I read that they played by CFL rules in the first half and NFL rules in the second, I had enough by that point) I do realize that the AFL-NFL merger gave us what we now know to be the Super Bowl, which is the greatest sporting event in this country. But here again, both of those leagues were American. This would NEVER fly today. I’d hate to see a guy’s career cut short because of a game that either didn’t count or wasn’t crucial to his team advancing to the playoffs.
And another point here – isn’t this a big concern to the Argonauts? How would they feel about us having an NFL team there? If they both were to share the Rogers Center would this not only cause a conflict of interest but a scheduling quandary as well? Horrible, horrible idea…
This goes back to one of the unspoken rules that we have learned not just in sports, but in almost every other facet of life: Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it. I can’t think of a better example of that in professional sports than this right here. Sure, it’s part of the NFL’s long term plan to expand outside of the United States. And yes, they have every right to do that. But, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s stupid and doesn’t belong where we were trying to put it in the first place. And while I’m complaining about this I should also mention here that you could make the point that they don’t want us there in the first place or that they get bored with the NFL as a product rather easily. I say this because of the reports that surfaced earlier this week that a very large portion of the crowd started cheering “Let’s Go Blue Jays” about halfway through the third quarter on Sunday when the game had gotten out of hand. I can’t imagine that the players are very thrilled about it either, what with having to go through customs and such.
In conclusion, the NFL has no business in other countries. This is evidenced by (but not limited to) the four points outlined above, the failure of the CFL never really latching on in America, the failure of NFL Europe, and the general Anti-American sentiment that seems to be present all of over the world. Let’s not lose the focus of a good product and our dedication
All that said, I still think that the Lebanon Bombers would be a great name for a team.