After 16 years, the NFL Europe is done. This should not come to much of a surprising seeing that he league was only able to even some what catch on in only one country: Germany.
No matter how the NFL wants to spin it this is a bad thing for the NFL and American football.
Sure, the NFL sold out the Giants/Dolphins game in about five seconds, but that's one game. In many ways it's just like when Manchester United, Real Madrid, and others came across the Atlantic for the first time a few years ago and sold out football stadiums here in the States. At first it was great fun... what does 'real' soccer look like? But in the four or five years since these teams first started coming over, it's lost a lot of it's luster. If the NFL is still selling out games in five seconds a five years from now, then maybe they have something. But I'm not holding my breath.
The NFL is not nearly as strong as everyone loves to claim they are. In this, for better or worse, globalizing world, of the four major sports here in the States (and that's a stretch since the NHL probably receives lower ratings than soccer at this point) the NFL is least prepared for success. 99% of the players in the league are Americans (and quick, name a non-kicker who isn't from the USA?). There is nothing even close resembling a competitive football league in the rest of the world. Meanwhile, baseball is played competitively in Japan, while Latin American countries inject new and fantastic players every year. The hockey is played at an extremely high level in Europe. And the basketball is quickly becoming in the 21st century to the world what soccer was in 20th century. If the NBA can ever get it's act together, the sky is the limit.
Assuming that globalization continues at it's rapid pace, the NBA is actually in the best shape over the next fifty years. Hopefully one of these years a competitive, international competition or tournament can be created both at the club and national level. This will require some sort of agreement on the rules of the game (mainly, they can't be playing with a bigger lane in Europe and a smaller rectangle here in the States, some sort of standard must be set).
No, the NFL won't fold or suddenly become anything other than the #1 sport in the US. It is solidly the biggest sport here in the US. But look at it this way, let's say you could invest in one of the five leagues here in the States (MLB, NFL, NBA, MLS, and NHL). Who would you invest in?
If you are risk adverse, put your money in the NFL. But future earnings appear only to be consistent sort of like bonds, consistent returns, but not a very high yield. Meanwhile both MLB and the NBA seem poised to capture more of this revenue.
Watching the NBA Draft last night, I couldn't help see the obvious difference between the NFL Draft and the NBA Draft - TV. The NFL runs their Draft like a business meeting - TV is at their mercy. If a team is ready to pick, they're not going to wait for ESPN; ESPN has to react to the NFL. The NBA Draft? The thing reeks of 'for TV' and has ESPN's fingerprints all over the place. Five minutes between picks created this near PTI Draft pick like situation. You knew David Stern was in the back room waiting for ESPN to do all the interviews and analysis between pick. It almost felt staged. Which is sort of a shame, because the five minutes between picks was actually enjoyable. I wonder if arrogant front offices would be able to exist with five minutes between first round picks. I mean, what do those teams do with all that time as it is? Shouldn't they pretty much know who their going to take? If anything, should teams have more time later in the draft when things are less predictable? None the less, just something that I noticed.