Back in mid-December, the Kansas City Chiefs were one of four teams awarded what the NFL has described as "International Marketing Rights" in Germany. That means that the Chiefs — along with the Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — could begin marketing efforts in the country on January 1, 2022.
The marketing includes in-country Chiefs' social media channels to engage fans, paid advertising campaigns, local sponsorship deals, extending their United States-based sponsors internationally and aligning with local agencies with on-the-ground knowledge and expertise.
Essentially, the Chiefs are among four franchises that have been enabled to convince German fans to root for them. They are also one of nine teams that can do this in Mexico. The league projects to have 19 million fans — and counting — in Germany
Fast forward to Wednesday, February 9 — four days ahead of Super Bowl LVI.
“We are very pleased to welcome Munich and Frankfurt to the NFL family and are excited to reward our fans in Germany for their passion by bringing them the spectacle of regular-season NFL football,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We look forward to staging our first game in Germany at FC Bayern Munich’s fantastic stadium later this year and to exploring areas of broader collaboration with the Bundesliga.”
The regular-season game held in Munich will be one of five international games staged by the NFL in 2022, including one in Mexico and three in the United Kingdom. The question now becomes whether the Chiefs would be given the nod for the initial game in Germany. Looking at the release, the league makes a point of highlighting the Chiefs, Panthers, Patriots and Buccaneers.
If the league were to include two of those teams — which would seem quite logical — let's take a look at the possibilities for 2022:
- Buccaneers at Panthers
- Chiefs at Buccaneers
- Panthers at Buccaneers
The Patriots do not have any 2022 regular-season games against their fellow German-market teams.
Chiefs at Bucs in Germany?
Knowing how the NFL historically operates, it isn't likely the league would ask either the Buccaneers or Panthers to surrender an NFC South division matchup. In addition, in 2022, the NFC gets an additional home game as part of the new-look 17-game schedule. Using a quick and logical process of elimination, Chiefs at Buccaneers seems to be the most likely candidate.
Chiefs president Mark Donovan has addressed the possibility that Kansas City could surrender another home game — as it did back in the 2015, when the Chiefs hosted the Detroit Lions in London.
"The way it works with international games, when you look at total number of games across the league, I think every team in the league will have to give up a home game every eight years," said Donovan back in December. "I might have that number wrong. But we feel like we already gave at the office, so we're going to be fighting pretty hard for away games, at least for the first round. But eventually, every team is going to give one up (home game)."
But as Donovan knows well, even a road game against a Brady-less Buccaneers will be a good thing for both organizations as they attempt to build loyal international fan bases.
"The first thing we're going to try to do is just continue to build the brand and awareness of who the Chiefs are," added Donovan. "The NFL is well known, the Chiefs are well known in Germany – we're actually the fifth-largest brand right now — we're 20th in Mexico — so that gives you some perspective. So, because of that, we know going in we're going to be a little bit different in our strategy in each market. We're going to be a little more unconventional in Mexico; we'll probably do things a lot differently than the other teams.
"Where in Germany we'll be more traditional, we'll work with local resources to help us with networking and developing relationships over there."
It will always be impossible to know, but it's likely that Lamar Hunt would love the idea of the organization he founded playing in the first-ever regular-season game in Germany — a mere bonus if his team would still see eight regular-season games at Arrowhead Stadium.
"My father, Lamar, founded the Chiefs and the American Football League in 1960 to introduce pro football to new fans in new regions of the country," said Chiefs owner, chairman and CEO Clark Hunt in a statement released by the team in December. "Over the last three decades, the Chiefs have been at the forefront of the NFL's global growth initiatives — building on the legacy of our founder to bring America's game to new fans in new places. We look forward to building relationships with fans in Germany and Mexico and continuing to share the best of Chiefs Kingdom around the world."