What was once one of the more anticipated National Football League contests of the year in Missouri now isn’t.
Since the departure of the St. Louis Rams back to Los Angeles, the Kansas City Chiefs stand alone on the west end of Interstate 70 in the state.
This has ended what was one of the bigger bragging rights games every few years for me at school and at college.
I was just old enough to start gaining interest in football before the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995 and I had already locked myself in as a Chiefs fan.
Growing up in northeast Missouri, there were fans of a wide variety of teams. In the late 1990s, there were suddenly a lot more Rams fans.
For years, that was a game to look forward to and the old Chiefs-Cardinals Governor’s Cup rivalry was even reinstated.
Of course, that could just be me because the Chiefs won every regular-season edition of the Governor’s Cup game during the Rams time in St. Louis.
The Chiefs swept all six installments in the series outside of the preseason — in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.
With the way the current divisions stack up and the Chiefs and Rams being in opposite conferences, the Chiefs and Rams square off now once every four years.
This will be the first regular-season meeting between the teams since the Rams left St. Louis.
Not only will it not be played in Missouri, but it will not even be played in the United States.
This year’s game takes place in Week 11 on Nov. 19 from Mexico City, continuing the trend of a slew of games being moved outside of the states and into either England or Mexico in an attempt to raise the international profile of the league.
The NFL has transported one of its games to Mexico each of the past two seasons as well.
The Chiefs-Rams game this year will air on Monday Night Football.
It is one of four games the NFL has scheduled in its international series this season. This is a step down from last season’s five international games.
Three games have been scheduled to take place in London on three consecutive weeks — Oct. 14, 21 and 28.
London fans have appeared very receptive to games in the past, but perhaps expecting a jovial turnout for three weeks in a row might be asking a bit much.
I, for one, am happy to see the number of these international games each year stop increasing and I’m sure the season-ticket holders who have to give up a home game for the international series to happen would agree.
Rams fans have to be among one of the least approving, having given up a home game in each of the first three seasons since welcoming the team back to Los Angeles after 20 years away.
The Rams moved a home game to London each of the past two years and are, of course, losing a home game to Mexico City this year.
It’s really almost like losing two home games for the Rams this season because along with the Mexico game, the Rams have a home game against the Los Angeles Chargers, who share the Memorial Coliseum with the Rams. Had that game been an away game for the Rams, they would still have been able to play in front of their home crowd and recover the game lost to the international series.
The players themselves are almost always gracious in front of the cameras about getting the opportunity to travel and offer compliments to the international crowds. However, there are also always reports of the toll these games take and the scheduling complications that arise from trying to plan travel for these games around the teams’ preparation and recuperation schedule between games. This usually results in teams getting a bye week after playing internationally.
Despite the lack of practicality, the NFL has been dead set on continuing to reach beyond the United States and we are now in a second decade of the international series, which began in 2007. Additionally, the NFL has invested millions of dollars in a new Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, which will be slated to host multiple NFL games per season in the future.
At this point, that feeling that the NFL should just go all-in with an international team or perhaps a full division is really starting to settle in with me.
Broadcast analysts talk about the possibility of locating a team in London and the impracticalities of it every year on the Sunday morning preshows during weeks when there is a game in the U.K. However, the NFL has proven stubborn enough to keep going back to London every year for 12 years now and now at least three times a year.
It’s not that much of a stretch to have four games there every year, each one with the home team being the regular London team in a kind of timeshare. That team could play two home games in London in back-to-back weeks twice in the front half of the schedule and then return to a secondary home location back in the states for the second half of the season. They could either play those remaining four home games at a set second home location or perhaps even send those other four games abroad in the continental U.S., maybe even to places like St. Louis, San Diego or Oakland that no longer have a team of their own or soon will not.
After all, a team for half a season would have to beat no team at all.