I guess once you’ve won five Super Bowl rings and two MVPs, your dreams become a bit less lofty. With all that Tom Brady has accomplished in his New England career, there’s one more item on his bucket list: playing an NFL game in China.
Brady was throwing a football around at the Great Wall as part of an Under Armour promotional tour this weekend, and here’s what he told CBS Boston:
“My dream is to play a game here in China some day,” Brady said. “We had an opportunity I think 10 years ago, and my team was going to play here. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But one day I hope that there are many games here and over the course of the year, because it’s such a great sport and because I love it so much. To bring that here and to bring the discipline and to bring the incredible strategy involved, it’s just a great event and hopefully a lot of the Chinese people would enjoy it.
“American football is such an incredible sport,” he said. “It requires tremendous amount of discipline, hard work, dedication, but most importantly teamwork. I’m a big believer in teamwork. There are so many football players that need to come together to learn and work cohesively in order to become a champion. So I’ve been very blessed to play on so many great teams. That’s part of why I’m here is to help spread the message of American football and its place in this world.”
The NFL has already expanded into London, playing a handful of games there each season. In 2007, Brady nearly got his dream when the Patriots were scheduled to play a preseason game against the Seahawks in Beijing, but that matchup ultimately got canceled.
A report from last summer said the NFL wants to play a regular-season game in China during the 2018 season. However, that matchup is supposed to be between the 49ers and the Rams, so two teams separated by 400 miles will instead have to take a 6,000-mile trip across the ocean. (The NFL still has not announced the game, and that likely has to do with air pollution in China.)
The NBA has had amazing success in the Chinese market. With the country’s population of 1.38 billion people, more NBA basketball is being watched in China than in America, even though the league has not had a prominent player of Chinese heritage since Jeremy Lin broke out with the Knicks in 2012.
And NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is aware of the opportunity in China, as he told media last March:
“The size and the influence of China in the global marketplace is obviously something that you can’t ignore,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday. “You can’t ignore that as a sport or a business or as a nation. We know we have lots of fans over there, and more importantly, potential fans over there.”