Patriots owner Kraft believes London ready for own NFL team
London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – After hosting the Olympics and other major sporting events, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft believes that London is ready to have its own NFL team.
“You’re already hosting the premier league, and we believe we’re the premier sport in the world,” Kraft said during the NFL FanFest rally Saturday at Trafalgar Square.
“I think London has shown, with the way they’ve handled the Olympics and every other major sporting event, that it’s time for you to have your own NFL franchise, based in London,” he added.
Kraft was joined on stage by coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, punter Zoltan Mesko and receivers Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker.
The Patriots are in London for Sunday’s International Series game against the St. Louis Rams at Wembley Stadium.
In a meeting with reporters, Kraft said the Jacksonville Jaguars four “home” games in London from 2013 to 2016 will greatly boost football’s following in the region.
“As these things develop and there’s a permanent home team now, I’m sure they’ll develop a great following,” Kraft said.
“Whatever we can do to cultivate playing football throughout the world. We’ve been discussing that the NFL, I don’t know if we’ve done as good a job as we could educating the rest of the world what a great game it is,” he added.
The showdown between the Patriots and Rams will be the sixth regular-season NFL game played in London.
The NFL has scheduled two regular-season games in London in 2013 — the San Francisco 49ers against the Jaguars, and the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Minnesota Vikings.
Kraft said playing overseas is a challenge that the Patriots welcome and should not be considered as a competitive disadvantage.
“It’s part of the challenge of organizing yourself. You get different time zones, you get players sick, you get players injured,” Kraft said. “It’s just part of the operating experience. We only look at the positive side and we think the way we’ve set things up, hopefully we have a competitive advantage week in, week out, home or away.”
Rams coach Jeff Fisher and several players, including quarterback Sam Bradford, also spoke to the crowd.