Thursday, July 25, 2013

What Will the NFL Look Like in 2050?

International Expansion, Perpetual Realignment and Even a Name Change to the Sport May Be Inevitable as the National Football League Marches into the Not-Too-Distant Future…


It’s fun to think about the future. I mean, just how much different can the world be in 50 years, with all of that newfangled technology and geopolitical factors that we can’t even dream up at the moment?

Speculative fiction is a popular hobby for a reason, as apparent by the popularity of sci-fi junk like “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who” and the peculiarly high number of YouTube videos out there featuring armchair generals “mapping out” how they think World War 3 could feasibly play itself out. And while it’s fun to think of the not too distant future in terms of nuclear explosions and robotic concubines, it’s probably even more fun to wonder about the more banal aspects of our contemporary existences and how they may change radically over the next three decades.

Case in point: have you ever wondered what the National Football League may look like 37 years down the road?

Clearly, a lot can change in such a timeframe. Just take a look at what the National Football League resembled  in 1976: 28 teams, an eight-team playoff format, and the Oakland Raiders were actually good. And for you visual learners: this is what the NFL used to look like, compared to what it looks like now. Just a wee bit of difference, no?

With the 2013-2014 season nigh approaching, I decided to prognosticate the near future of the National Football League myself. What potential expansion teams, and rule changes, and realignment scenarios might take place between now and 2050? After gazing into the crystal ball and picking tea leaves out of the cup, this is the prophetic vision that assailed me...

2014 -- With their lease up at the Oakland Coliseum, the Raiders sign a 10 year lease agreement with the San Francisco 49ers to play eight home games a year at Levi’s Stadium. As part of the relocation, the team officially changes its name to the Santa Clara Raiders. The Raiders remain in the AFC West.

2015 -- Unable to reach new stadium deals, both the San Diego Chargers and the St. Louis Rams agree in principle to a joint lease agreement at Farmers Field in Los Angeles. Both teams, officially rechristened as the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams, respectively, will begin play in 2017. The two teams will remain in their respective conferences -- the AFC West, and the NFC West.

2016 -- Super Bowl L ends in grand fashion, with the Cinderella Santa Clara Raiders defeating the highly-favored Atlanta Falcons 26-20 in the first ever Super Bowl that requires overtime play. Raiders CB Charles Woodson is named MVP, after he picks off Matt Ryan at the Falcons’ own five and returns the INT 95 yards for the game winner.

2018 -- Tim Tebow, third string quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, makes history by becoming the first openly gay NFL player.

2019 -- The National Football League announces its first two international teams when the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, unable to secure new stadium deals, relocate to Toronto and London, respectively. The London Jaguars will play at a renovated Wembley Stadium (with the NFL footing half of the renovation bill) while the ex-Bills, now rechristened as the Toronto Canadians, agree to play five seasons at the Rogers Centre while an all new stadium is constructed in Brantford, Ontario (which opens in 2023.) Ironically, the Canadian Football League counters by relocating the Toronto Argonauts to Orchard Park, New York the following season.

2020 -- The NFL announces two expansion teams; the Mexico City Aztecas (who play at Aztec Stadium) and the Google-owned Dublin Shamrocks (whose home field is Croke Park.) Both teams begin play in 2022. With 34 teams, the league announces plans to realign its conferences, with 17 teams in the American Football Conference and 17 in the National Football Conference.

2021 -- Unable to secure a feasible plan to finance a new stadium, the New Orleans Saints reach an agreement to relocate to San Antonio for the 2022 season. The team, now known as the San Antonio Saints, will remain in the NFC South. The same year, the first Super Bowl played on non-U.S. soil takes place in London, where the Los Angeles Rams blow out the New York Jets 44-9.

2022 -- The Miami Dolphins, under new ownership from a consortium of Cuban and Puerto Ricans business leaders, change their nickname to the Miami Delfines. As a result, the Delfines split their home schedule between four games in southern Florida and two games a piece in Havana and San Juan. Meanwhile, mounting political pressure results in the Washington Redskins changing their official team nickname to the Washington Federals -- a sardonic nod to not only the city's former USFL squad, but a sly ode to the teams' primary financier, Federal Express.

2023 -- The first Super Bowl featuring a non-American team, the Mexico City Aztecas, takes place in Glendale, Arizona, with the Dallas Cowboys eking out a 34-31 victory in a game considered by many to be among the most thrilling ever played.

2025 -- The National Football League announces several sweeping organizational changes, beginning with its name; to better permeate international markets and avoid confusion with that “other football,” the NFL officially changes its name to the International Gridiron Association (called INGRA, colloquially.) The “new” association also announces two more expansion teams, the Scottish Knights (who play 6 games a year at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium and 2 at Glasgow’s Celtic Park) and the Guadalajara Guerreros (playing at a renovated Jalisco Stadium, financed by the team’s majority owner, Telmex.) With 36 teams in the league, INGRA announces a major overhaul of its’ conferences and divisions, fully abandoning the terms “American Football Conference” and “National Football Conference” in favor of the geographically-realigned “Atlantic Gridiron Conference” and the “Pacific Gridiron Conference.”


2026 -- The Los Angeles Chargers officially change their name to the Los Angeles Cargadores, a symbolic gesture for a city with the highest population of Hispanic residents in the United States. Meanwhile, financial difficulties force the Microsoft-owned Seattle Seahawks to sell the team to Hong Kong venture capitalists, who relocate the team to British Columbia, where the team is rechristened as the Vancouver Totems.

2027 -- The Mexico City Aztecas become the first non U.S.-based team to win a Super Bowl, defeating the New England Patriots 27-14. The Aztecas go on to become the league’s preeminent squad, winning three out of the next five Super Bowls.

2028 -- Amidst the greatest recession in a quarter century, several INGRA teams fall into complete disarray. Facing dual bankruptcy, long-term rivals the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals decide to merge into a single team, the Ohio Barons, who play six home games a year at Ohio Stadium in Columbus (the other two home games are split between Cleveland and Cincinnati venues.) Also facing financial ruin, the Kansas City Chiefs sign a joint agreement with a consortium to split the team’s home games, four stands a piece, at venues in Kansas City and St. Louis (who have been without a team for almost two decades.) The “new” team is simply re-dubbed the “Missouri Chiefs.”

2029 -- Two expansion teams enter the league; the Rhine Panzers, who play at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, Germany, and the Cascadia Novas, an interstate team that splits its home games between venues in Seattle and Portland. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dissolve into an all new franchise, the North Florida Sharks, who splits its home games between venues in Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.

2030 -- For the first time ever, two non-U.S. teams face off in the Super Bowl, with the Mexico City Aztecas defeating the Dublin Shamrocks 26-13 in Los Angeles.

2032 -- The Tennessee Titans become a dual-site team, splitting its home games four a piece at sites in Nashville and Memphis. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals become a multi-state, regional team that plays its home games in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque. The new team is rebranded as the Southwestern Cardinals.

2033 -- A new scoring system is implemented, with field goals being worth one point for every ten yards out. Philadelphia Eagles kicker Pat Solitano, Jr. breaks the league record the same season for longest field goal, netting his squad the first ever “eight-point” shot when he dinks an 83 yard FG in a game against the Washington Federals.

2034 -- The Midwest, now a bustling industrial mecca propped up by new technological firms (the “New Silicon Valley”, its nickname becomes) gets two expansion teams: the Nebraska Aeros (owned by Berkshire Hathaway, who play four games a piece at sites in Omaha and Lincoln) and the Exxon-owned Oklahoma City Twisters. The Carolina Panthers, facing insolvency, are bought out by IBM and relocated to the Richmond, Virginia area. The team is now known as the “Virginia Crusaders.”



2035 -- With 40 teams in the league after the Monterrey Gladiadores begin play, INGRA announces an all new conference realignment, with 10 divisions of four geographic rivals apiece:

2036 -- The official playoff format expands to 16 teams, with no first round byes (similar to the playoff brackets used in the NHL and NBA today.)

2037 -- Following a cataclysmic hurricane that leaves Southern Florida in ruins, the Miami Delfines officially relocate to Orlando. They maintain the Delfines nickname, while the North Florida Sharks permanently relocate to Jacksonville.

2038 -- The Tennessee Titans relocate to St. Petersburg, Florida, where they become known as the Tampa Bay Titans.

2040 -- The New York Jets move into Manhattan Stadium, which has been in construction for 20 years. Meanwhile, the New York Giants relocate to Brooklyn, playing games at the most expensive stadium ever constructed, The Shawn Carter Dome. Both teams retain their respective “New York” monikers and nicknames.

2042 -- The long-roaming Southwestern Cardinals find a permanent home in Austin, Texas (now the fifth largest city in the nation) and change their team nickname to the Rattlers. Meanwhile, the first “Corporate Team” is established when Wal-Mart Co. (annual revenue: $6.3 trillion) purchases the Missouri Chiefs and relocates the franchise to Bentonville, Arkansas. Following a lengthy antitrust case, INGRA manages to “buy back” the squad, who remains in the Bentonville area under the name the Midwestern Hammers.

2044 -- The Rhine Panzers become the first European team to win a Super Bowl, defeating the Green Bay Packers 67-6 in the most lopsided Big Game victory ever.

2045 -- In an attempt to gauge further international interest, the first Super Bowl in Asia is held in Shanghai. The move inadvertently starts a new tradition, with international cities vying for the Super Bowl the same way cities vie for the Olympics in the modern era. The league’s championship game, as a result, is held in venues in Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (now known as Konystan and one of the world’s ten richest nations) over the remainder of the decade.

2047 -- The highly touted “Intergalactic Bowl” -- an exhibition game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears, held on a U.S. lunar base -- is cancelled when league officials realize its impossible for QBs to throw spirals in the vacuum of space.

2048 -- The Detroit Lions relocate to Ann Arbor, Michigan, officially changing their name to the Michigan Lions.

2049 -- The Official Championship Game is renamed “The Goodell Bowl,” with the Lombardi Trophy rechristened as “The Belichick Cup.”


2050 -- Expansion teams in Riyadh, Doha, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai and Karachi play their first seasons. With 48 teams in the league, INGRA redraws its conferences, with six divisions of four teams in each. The season concludes rather anticlimactically, however, with the Green Bay Packers besting the Oklahoma City Twisters in match-up that sees the league's two smallest-markets compete for the global championship...

3 comments:

  1. Thanks very much for your large information .And knowledge full description . I think it is Sus a topic that many kinds of people face many problems. thanks for this.
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  2. Detroit keeps their team til 2048 but St Louis loses the Rams next year? F--k You. St Louis Rams 95 til Infinity.

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  3. -In the nearer future, I have the Jaguars relocating to Canada to become the Nord Force (as opposed to calling them the Mounties and to help make the national team name less poignant). The obvious choice is Toronto but I'd live sports to consider a feasible roaming format in the future to help cover more of the map with regional teams. Getting the French side of Canada invested into an NFL team, I'd like them playing some games in Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal. They can play two home games in each town in their inaugural season. Vancouver would be an obvious venue as well. The CFL has stadiums in place and even where current venues don't have the numbers as far as league seating, Canadian television viewership will help shatter that concern. I guess Buffalo will survive. I think the festival draw of any regional roaming team can help offset normally nightmarish logistics costs of not having just one home field.

    -The Rams move back to Los Angeles. I'm being revenue realistic.

    -The Sur Toros expansion team plays football in Monterrey, Mexico by 2020.

    -In Portand, Oregon, let's kick off some more regional expansion with the Western Mustangs for a team that can also play in Boise, SLC, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Vegas and/or Oklahoma City.

    Make more people from areas without a team care. Let more of the nation have a team.
    The training camp situations and roaming potential would be economic entities as well. No doubt, some of these camp cities for regional teams would beg consideration and eventually receive the NFL's undivided attention as the years go on (ie. OKC and the Pioneers of Portland).

    -Need a fourth team, and logistically don't want to deal with the London Continentals just yet? See below.
    Some honorable mentions I've thought about within the next 20 years and beyond:
    -Southern Belles: near the heat of football in Birmingham-Tuscaloosa and the Talldega festival atmosphere, I think a team with brand new housing and economic catalyst to a town called Reform, Al, near the border of Mississippi (further away from Atlanta that) could help draw in a helluva southern crowd on a Sunday (and Monday vacation days). A "home" game in Little Rock and Jacksonville couldn't hurt.

    Population centers in the future are likely to grow and as the population gets bigger as a whole there is less of a concern of watered down talent/competion for expansion. It's going to happen but how it unfolds is interesting. I could fancy a team going between Las Vegas and -SLC becoming the Great Basin Bandits. Also, the Good River Drifters being in Louisville, Memphis and St. Louis. The Great Plains Drifters or Cattlemen could extend football weekends for folks in OKC, Omaha, Witchita or Iowa. And maybe even the Dakotas will start to have that Jets/Giants feel with the Vikings and their Great Plains team.

    -And how would the East Coast Colonials feel in Hampton Roads or Jacksonville?

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