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NFL eyeing Australia for possible regular-season game that could happen as soon as 2025

The NFL’s international presence has been expanding over the past few years and that expansion could soon include putting a game in Australia. 

Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s head of international affairs, revealed at the Spring League Meeting on Tuesday that Australia is under consideration for hosting a future game. O’Reilly’s comments came less than 24 hours after 9News in Melbourne, Australia had reported that the NFL would likely be moving at least one regular-season game Down Under in either 2025 or 2026. O’Reilly mentioned that 2025 is definitely a possibility. 

It’s not completely clear yet where the game would be held, but 9News reported that one stadium in Melbourne — the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) — has already had early discussions with the NFL. 

Before the NFL makes an official decision though, the league has to figure out the traveling logistics for the two teams that would be involved.  

“When you start to talk about Asia, Pacific and Australia, you talk about distance and logistics and the football component of that,” O’Reilly said, via the AP. “So those factors are real.”

Although the logistics would be complicated, it wouldn’t be impossible. There’s a 14-hour time difference between Melbourne/Sydney and the Eastern Time Zone in the United States, which isn’t ideal, but the NFL could certainly work around it. If the game kicked off at noon on Monday in Melbourne, that would be a 9 p.m. ET Sunday night kickoff in the United States. 

The NFL could also put the game in Week 1 and play it on Friday afternoon or Saturday afternoon in Australia, which would put it on Thursday night or Friday night in the United States. If the league went that route, the two teams involved would have plenty of time to travel back and readjust to time in the U.S. 

If the NFL chose to put the game after Week 1, the two teams playing in the game would likely need a bye after playing Down Under. Either way, it would almost certainly be an afternoon start in Australia so that it could be shown in prime time in the U.S. 

If a game does get moved to Australia, it appears that the Los Angeles Rams would be in the driver’s seat to serve as the home team, which makes sense, because they’re currently one of two teams — along with the Eagles — that have international marketing rights to the country. Under the NFL’s global marketing program, the Rams were awarded Australia rights in December 2021 and they’re guaranteed to have those rights through Jan. 1, 2027, so it makes sense that the team would want to get a game in Down Under. 

Back in February 2022, Rams’ chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said that he would love to see the team play in Australia. 

“I would love to play a game there at some point; be it an exhibition game, or come for training camp, or if the NFL ever decides to put a (regular-season) game over there, I think we would be the first to raise our hand and look to do it,” Demoff said. 

This isn’t the first time that the NFL has looked at putting a game in Australia. Back in 2016, the league briefly considered putting the 2017 Pro Bowl in Sydney. Also, the NFL did play a preseason game in Australia back in 1999 with the Broncos beating the Chargers 20-17 in Sydney.

The NFL is also getting set to open an international academy in Australia. As part of the league’s International Player Pathway program, the NFL has had an academy in England since 2019, and soon, there will be two academies after the second one opens on Australia’s Gold Coast in September. 

The NFL’s international series has been expanding at blistering rate over the past few years. From 2007 through 2021, the NFL held games in London, Mexico City and Toronto. The NFL has now doubled that international total since 2022 by adding games in Germany (Frankfurt and Munich), Brazil (Sao Paulo) and Spain (Madrid). The game in Brazil will take place in September with the Eagles hosting the Packers while the game in Madrid will be played in 2025

As international expansion continues, don’t look for it to slow down and that’s because the NFL is expected to have as many as nine international games starting with the 2025 season. Thanks to a rule that the owners passed in December, all teams will be required to host an international game at least once every four years.  

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