The Minnesota Vikings are working to build up their fan base across the pond.
No, this doesn’t have anything to do with a body of water in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
The Vikings are generating some interest for their Sept. 29 game in London this season. Ben Goessling reports that tight end Kyle Rudolph, center John Sullivan and safety Harrison Smith recently completed a four-day trip to the British Isles. The Vikings are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium and the game is sold out.
What the Vikings players discovered is there are plenty of sophisticated football fans in the U.K.
“There were people asking about proposed rule changes (preventing running backs from hitting defenders) with the crown of the helmet,” Sullivan told Goessling. “They asked about potential offseason scheduling changes. It wasn't just focused on the game of football. It was the full spectrum of the NFL product.
“My guess is, it has the same appeal that it has here,” Sullivan said. “People like violent sports played by big guys at the highest level. It's universally appealing. They have access to the games on TV during the fall, and with Twitter, you have that instantaneous connection. It's great.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars will be playing in England on a regular basis starting this season. They will have four games there through 2016, beginning with a meeting this season with the San Francisco 49ers. It will be interesting to see if they can develop a fan base as the NFL continues to think about global expansion.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune