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NFL exploring playing games in Germany, to gauge interest from host cities

The National Football League is returning to the international stage this season with two games in the United Kingdom. Germany could soon become the next European nation to host a professional gridiron game.

The league will be gauging interest soon from German cities to possibly host games in future years, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Thursday.

While nothing is set yet, the move foreshadows potential regular-season games being played in Germany's greatest and largest stadiums, like Allianz Arena in Munich, Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund or Olympiastadion in Berlin, for example.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic paused international travel and therefore the NFL International Series in 2020, the league had played at least one game in London every season since 2007 and at least three since 2014. The NFL will return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this season with two games: Jets-Falcons in Week 4 and Dolphins-Jaguars in Week 5. The league has also played three regular-season games in Mexico City from 2016-2019.

But the league has never set foot during the regular season on continental Europe.

NFL-sponsored football has been played in Deustchland before, however. NFL Europe, which operated from 1991 to 2007, featured five teams located in Germany: Berlin Thunder, Cologne Centurions, Frankfurt Galaxy, Hamburg Sea Devils and Rhein Fire. Eight German stadiums played host to American football games during the league's run, seven of which are still up and running.

Germany's connection with the modern NFL runs deep, as well. A number of German-born players have landed on NFL rosters over the last six years thanks to the International Pathway Player Program, including Moritz Boehringer, Mark Nzeocha, Christopher Ezeala, David Bada, Moubarak Djeri, Jakob Johnson and Aaron Donkor.

The league has targeted Germany and other nations as potential places for fan growth in recent years, so it makes sense with their interest in football -- NBC Sports' Peter King reported this week that 2.2 million people in Germany watched at least part of Super Bowl LV -- and modern stadium infrastructure that Germany would be the next nation to host a regular-season game.

When and how often the country is afforded the privilege of doing so is still to be determined.

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