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Buona Notte, NFL Europa

NFL Europa, we hardly knew thee.

The NFL's overseas daughter-league is dead, and no one cares. In fact, I believe more people care about the league's demise in America, where we have the real thing, than Europa's abroad target audience. I haven't watched too much NFL Europa (although the football-less desperation of the offseason has led me to a few viewings), don't know much about the league beyond what implications it has for the real life NFL, but I know that I come into contact with a lot of NFL fans in other continents, and they're more concerned with how the American squads are doing than their inferior brand of pigskin.

With the NFL-proper's broadcasting deals overseas and the presence of the Internet, NFL access is widely available outside of America. This would have benefitted NFL Europa if the offshoot regularly sent productive talent to the NFL. Europa fans would have been keen to view NFL talent before the States got a glimpse. Part of the hardcore NFL fans' attraction to the game, more than any other sport, is the scouting approach. Fans of the NFL fancy themselves as amateur coaches. Allowing the Europeans to get a scouting report on players before they arrive here would have let them in on that fun. But Europa was not much of a developmental tool. For every Kurt Warner or Adam Vinatieri that has emerged from over yonder, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of simply inferior players, or players that have taken too long to season and are now considered past their "athletic prime," whether or not that is accurate. So the question becomes: what incentive is there to get invested in these mediocre players and teams, when even Europeans could keep well in-tune with what is happening in the NFL?

So, in reality, I could care less about Europa's demise, if it didn't play into an NFL plan I'm firmly against -- branching out of America. Like I said above, my only true knowledge of Europa is how it effects my beloved league, and its closing is another domino fall in the league's attempt to dominate worldwide as they do domestically. With Europa gone, the league can now proceed to implant the actual league in the same territory.

That's a movement I'm against. I don't want any regular season games in other countries. I don't want the Bills to move to Toronto. Or a team formed in Barcelona. I like the league the way it is. And I know it's going to come off as exclusive and patriotic to a fault, but I think of it as anti-imperialistic. I just feel as if, by decentralizing the NFL, the foundation is going to be weakened. I just don't see a logistical way to make this happen without compromising the efficiency with which the league currently operates.

More to the point: it's not broke. The league is doing incredibly well. And expanding overseas -- holding regular season games on foreign land and eventually adding teams there -- is the type of risk that could do considerable damage to the league's profile. Of course, it could also pay off in spades. But if it does, the American/long-time NFL fans -- the one who made the league what it is today -- still suffer. If someone could name incentives for us that would result from success taking over the globe, I'll change my tune, but I've been thinking and thinking and I can't come up with any. And I know that that's selfish. And I don't really care.

There's no shame in being the biggest league, by far, in America, even if it's only marginally successful abroad. When your vision gets too large, your focus softens, and the product suffers. I'm reminded of a White Stripes song which warns against visions of grandeur:

Well you're in your little room, and you're working on something good
but if it's really good, you're gonna need a bigger room
and when you're in the bigger room, you might not know what to do
you might have to think of how you got started
sitting in your little room

That those lyrics are followed by 30 or so odd seconds of Jack White skatting doesn't take away from the profundity of the song. The NFL, as hard as it is to believe, is still in the little room. Don't make us relocate, Goodell. The big room is scary. The little room feels just like home.