It's one thing for the NFL to try to grow its product overseas through games in London and increased marketing.
It's another thing to get other countries to play football at the highest levels. American football, that is. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell believes the sport is taking major strides in that area partly in an effort to become an Olympic sport.
"We're already taking steps to gain that IOC recognition," Goodell told Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show via ProFootballTalk. "We have, I think, 64 countries that are playing American football now, and that's one of the requirements. That's been growing dramatically -- I think it was 40 just five years ago."
Other countries are playing football, but it will take some time until they play it well. Watching the U.S. face off against any international team other than Canada would be borderline inhumane.
The more immediate goal for Goodell is to grow fan interest in the NFL overseas. That is probably the clearest avenue to getting the youth of other countries play our version of football.
"Our point is just to keep growing the game," Goodell said. "We're having a tremendous reaction in London and the UK for the game of football, our regular season game over there is sold out again this year, we are seriously contemplating as early as 2013 playing two NFL games next season and I think we'll do that.
"It's a response to the tremendous fan reaction and the growth of the game. If we can continue to grow the game there and have the fan reaction that we have, there very well may be a franchise in London."