'NFL in UK is only going to get bigger,' says former Jets centre Nick Mangold

Planet Sport talks to former New York Jets centre Nick Mangold about how the NFL is moving forward on the international scene.

Former New York Jets centre Nick Mangold believes the growth of the NFL in the UK and around the world will only get bigger.

The announcement of the 2022 NFL International Series saw three more games revealed to be played in London, two at Tottenham and one at Wembley.

A game in Mexico City was also announced along with the first ever regular season game in Germany, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Seattle Seahawks in Munich.

The Jets played in London in 2021 and are one of a number of teams who have won marketing rights deals from the NFL for the UK.

As such, the Jets will be trying to grow their fanbase in the UK - where Mangold himself played at Wembley on another visit by the New Yorkers in 2015.

UK fans know more about the NFL

The seven-time Pro Bowl star says that after first coming over from America to play in 2015, then returning for last year's game, he noticed the growth in the sport over here, in both popularity and knowledge.

"I played here in 2015 at Wembley and it was a fantastic experience, it also helped that we won so I didn't complain about the flights," Mangold told Planet Sport.

"That crowd was fantastic and enthusiastic but there was a bit of a lack of knowledge about the game, and when and when not to cheer.

"It was almost like you've got this new toy but don't know what to do with it.

"Whereas I can back last season to watch the Jets play the Falcons at Tottenham and that crowd was just as enthusiastic but was really into the game play and what was happening on the field.

"So seeing that growth in the fans at the game was great and shows that the game is growing."

Jets aiming to grow UK fanbase

As part of their new marketing agreement, the Jets will be increasing their presence in the UK, where Mangold has seen with his own eyes how popular the sport is becoming.

Crucially, this popularity is growing among the younger generation, which is key.

"Also what's driving this growth is with the kids who are starting to enjoy and learn about the game," Mangold added.

"I've been to a Jets sponsored flag football team and the kids were talking about the game and using the right terminology and playing it the right way.

"If you covered your ears you wouldn't know you were in London, you could have been anywhere in the States, just with different accents.

"So seeing kids over here participate in the game is pretty cool to watch and it's only going to continue to get bigger."

Logistics key to chance of London team

One of the big goals of NFL commissioner Roger Goodwell when the UK game started was to test out the chance of eventually having a team based in London.

Games were staged on consecutive weekends, the Jacksonville Jaguars have played every year and it looked at one stage like a London-based team was inevitable.

The logistics still seem like a big barrier, and Mangold says that the flight time possibly being reduced in the future could help.

"I can see it," Mangold replies about the possibility of a London team. "How it can happen logistically is the hard part, but I think it would be well received.

"I did hear that supersonic jets are coming back and that could change the game if you could make the flights shorter.

"I think it is an idea of the NFL to continue to grow the game as much as possible, whether it will actually happen is too tough to tell."

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