The Seahawks put it off for as long as possible, but their time finally came: They have to play in London in 2018. At least it won’t come at the expense of a home game.
Way back in 2005, Tod Leiweke, then Seattle’s CEO, said the Seahawks were not interested in playing abroad during the season — especially if it cost them a home game.
Before the 49ers and Cardinals played the first regular-season game outside the U.S., in Mexico City in October 2005, Leiweke said, “They didn’t need to ask us because they knew what the answer would be. Our football guys wouldn’t have been crazy about it. I think it’s one of those things where the guys who aren’t playing in it think it’s a great idea.”
That Mexico game kicked off the NFL’s international foray. The league has played in London since 2007, and the Seahawks have staved off the trip for 11 seasons. Hopefully they can avoid it for another 11 after 2018.
The Hawks will play the Raiders, with new coach Jon Gruden and old teammates Marshawn Lynch and Bruce Irvin (assuming Lynch keeps playing), in Week 6 next season (Oct. 14).
The NFL should schedule the Seahawks to play an East Coast game immediately before the London excursion — that would mean at Carolina. This wouldn’t be for flight time — a difference of just 1.5 hours — as much as for body clocks.
London is eight hours ahead of the West Coast. Game time has not been set, but it ideally will be at 6 p.m. London time, which would be a 10 a.m. game for the biological clocks of the Seahawks and Raiders. A lot of these games have been played around 6 a.m. PT, which is ridiculous. But the NFL seems cognizant of that: The Cardinals and Rams played at 10 a.m. PT in 2017.
If the NFL values quality in these London games, it will send the Seahawks and Raiders to the East Coast immediately before the UK contest — so the clubs can jet across the pond from those locations (for the Raiders, it would be Miami or Baltimore). And then, of course, give them byes as they return.
If the Hawks are at Carolina in Week 5 and Oakland (London) in Week 6, they would have six options for their opener, which — unless it is on a Monday — will be on the road because the Mariners are at home Sept. 9: At Chicago, Detroit, Denver, L.A., San Francisco or Arizona.
The Seahawks’ non-division home opponents next season are Green Bay, Minnesota, Kansas City, the L.A. Chargers and Dallas.