The NFL wants the UK, badly—but does the UK want the NFL? Skeptics who question the league’s popularity overseas are facing mounting evidence that American football is indeed catching on, developing a growing and avid army of supporters in Britain. All but one of the NFL’s games in London since the start of the International Series in 2007 have sold out (quickly), and the league says 82% of ticket-buyers are UK residents, while only 3% are American ex-pats or U.S. tourists.
To gauge the passion for the game in the UK, we followed diehard Saints fan Dan Nightingale of St. Ann’s on Sea, Lancashire, as he made the nearly 500-mile round trip to London on October 1 to see New Orleans take on the Dolphins at Wembley Stadium. Can an NFL franchise flourish in the UK? That’s yet to be determined. But there’s no question that, for fans like Dan and many others, the American game is already a big part of their lives.
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