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03rd Sep 2015

“It’s heading in that direction” – New York Jets star Nick Mangold talks to JOE about an NFL franchise in London

It could happen...

Kevin Beirne

American football is becoming more popular in the UK every year.

With three NFL games taking place in Wembley this year – as well as a ten-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur to host two games annually – the whispers about an NFL team relocating to London are getting louder by the minute.

We caught up with New York Jets centre Nick Mangold at the launch of at the launch of EA SPORTS Madden NFL 16 to talk about the challenges a European-based NFL team would face.

Mangold image

Coming over, did you have any idea how popular American football was over here?

No. It was kinda crazy because we came over in 2012 for the Olympics and it was a wonderful experience. Seeing everything here: the football, the cricket, even rugby – it’s so different. Then coming back over here, we had a bunch of kids playing and if you covered your ears you would have no idea that we weren’t back in the States.

These kids were throwing and catching the football and they knew the rules and their positions. It was really impressive. I think it’s just exploding over here.

New York Jets v Philadelphia Eagles

Obviously people see the new deal with Spurs as a push towards a London franchise. Do you see that ever happening?

I could see it happening if they worked out the logistics. My wife and I were sitting last night trying to come up with our own way for how we would do it, because we talked about it and it at first she was like ‘I don’t know if I would see a draw to it, as a family member’.

Then I was thinking about it and I realised that’s because we’re further from the start than we are from the end, career-wise. But think about five years ago when we didn’t have kids. Wouldn’t it be great to be like: ‘You know what? Maybe we could try getting on the London team and playing there for a year or two.’

And she agreed that actually would be pretty awesome. I think the interest would be there, player-wise but I think it would take somebody a lot smarter than me to figure out how to make it all happen.

How far in advance have the Jets started planning for their London trip?

I think they started planning a little bit ago. It’s really impressive, they do planning for all the away games early in the spring. I don’t think it adds anything to any of the teams trying to get over here. I think for the European team, it would be very difficult.

How would you travel? Would you be travelling every other week? Would you be doing home stretches and away stretches, which would make it tricky. Because obviously I think we’ve proved that you can do one team coming over here for a game.

You’ve got six teams coming to London this year, so you’d just be adding two more teams who would have to come over here. I think that’s starting to get worked out. It seems like it’s heading in that direction.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Jets

Do you ever watch soccer or rugby?

Yes. So the recent men’s World Cup apparently ignited a fire in me because now I’ve been watching football like crazy. New York has a new expansion team for the MLS so they’ve become my team. I’ve accepted NYCFC as my team.

I’ve been learning the different terms and everything, like you’re going out to the pitch and what a derby is. So I’m getting into it.

I knew I was sucked in when we were on vacation in the Caribbean. I’m sitting there working out and there’s a match on. It was one of those small TVs they have in the gym so I can’t see who’s playing but I watched that thing and I picked a side. It was awesome.

That’s how I know I’m really starting to enjoy it because now here I am watching these two teams that I have no rooting interest in and I’m watching it like I’ve been watching it forever.

Do you have a Premier League team that you follow?

Yes – go Spurs. It was easy for me in MLS to come up with a team. But the Premier League, I have no knowledge of anything that’s going on. I’m with Under Armour, so I was buying my son some stuff and they had Spurs clothing so I was clicking on some of that stuff and it was like ‘Oh, I guess we’re Tottenham fans now.’

Nick Mangold was speaking at the launch of EA SPORTS Madden NFL 16, out NOW on Xbox One and PS4. Check out Harry Kane taking on NFL stars Mangold and Cairo Santos in an American football masterclass here:

To find our more visit #Madden16

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