London’s very own NFL star Jay Ajayi looks set to return home next year after it was announced that his Miami Dolphins side would feature in one of the four International Series games.
The 23-year-old running back has enjoyed an impressive season so far and will undoubtedly receive a warm welcome from British fans when he travels to face the New Orleans Saints.
This will be the fourth time Miami has played in England having lost to the New York Giants in the first ever International Series Game in 2007 before going on to beat the Oakland Raiders in 2014 and suffer a defeat to the New York Jets a year later.
A record four regular season games will be played in the UK next year as the NFL continues to grow in popularity and speculation over a future London-based franchise develops by the year.
The scheduled games
The Jacksonville Jaguars will make their fourth appearance at Wembley Stadium when they face the Baltimore Ravens, who have yet to play on European turf.
Ajayi’s Dolphins will lineup as the home side as they host the New Orleans Saints. One of the games will be played on 24 September, while the other will be played on 1 October.
Twickenham Stadium will stage two more games after this year’s game between the Giants and the LA Rams marked the first non-Rugby event to be held there in 107 years.
The home of Rugby will see the Cleveland Browns and the Arizona Cardinals make their London debuts as they come up against the Minnesota Vikings and the Rams, respectively. 22 October and 29 October pose as the two possible dates for the games.
The expectation is that four games in England will become five, six or even more as the years go by and the game continues to expand outside of the United States.
It appears that getting every team to make the long journey over is the initial aim as the teams are introduced to and perhaps lured towards the possibility of appearing in the country more regularly.
Ajayi’s presence in his home nation is sure to be a crucial factor in sparking more interest from British sports fans, especially if he continues making a name for himself with standout performances in the manner that he has done on several occasions this season.
The long-term objective is very clearly to produce a franchise based in England’s capital. The more the International Series continues to grow, the greater the chance there is of this becoming a reality.
Stars on show
Aside from Ajayi, there are plenty of big name stars for fans to be excited about.
Veteran Saints quarterback Drew Brees will draw lots of media attention while all eyes will also be on Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who will be in his second year as a professional.
Besides this, Cardinals running back David Johnson promises to be an exciting player to watch as will the Jaguars' wide receiver Allen Robinson and Vikings star Adrian Peterson.
The four games that have been announced fail to catch the eye in the way perhaps most would have liked but it is more football in England, after all, that is the main thing and that is exactly what the fans are getting.