NFL rumors: NFL plans China expansion, Rams vs 49ers 2018 opener

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Rams may play vs 49ers in China in 2018Photo courtesy: Dave Herholz/Flickr

The NFL plans to play a game in China in 2018. The NBA did it in 1979 with the Washington Bullets, and played a pair of regular seasons in Shanghai and Beijing in 2004 to plant the seeds of what is now a huge sport in the Country. The NFL plans to pursue a similar route.

Boxing is building its brand too with the advent of Zou Shiming in professional boxing under the tutelage of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.

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With a population of over 1.3 billion, China is a massive untapped market, which the NFL is excited to derive benefit from. To do this, it plans on letting the Rams play the opener there, with the 49ers as the rumored opponent.

What the NFL has at the moment, though, are opposing views, especially from the Packers and the Giants.

Others have expressed their support for the NFL’s drive to expand the game elsewhere, but the problems mainly stem from the logistics involved and the necessary travel.

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Some feel the travel is going to be tough on the players, and that there would be a challenge in the game schedules. The league might have to give them a week off before and after they travel long distances for their games.

It’s interesting how the NFL addresses these issues but it remains steadfast in its plans. China is too big a market to ignore, and there’s simply too much money involved in its potential.

In spite of the initial reactions against the international games,’s Judy Battista said the “NFL was free to schedule the upcoming China game for 2018 without owner approval since it was already empowered to set up more international games.”

The NFL has been trying to introduce football in China since 2007, but eventually cancelled its China Bowl in 2009.

Apart from China, as part of its international expansion, games will be held in Mexico with the Raiders and the Texans visiting this year, and the Rams will possibly play in London in 2017.

Photo courtesy: Dave Herholz/Flickr

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