Back in 2009, Tampa Bay Buccaneers went into a sort of collective panic. The Bucs were playing a game in London, and the team’s owners also own Manchester United. With flagging attendance and terrible results, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Bucs would move there.
Then, in 2011, the Bucs played there again. That game was the start of the end for Raheem Morris and Josh Freeman, as it started a ten-game losing streak. It was also confirmation in the eyes of some that the Bucs were preparing for an eventual move to the UK.
Turns out that was all bollocks, as the Bucs haven’t been back since. And they won’t go there this year, either: the three NFL games to be played in London in 2018 will feature the Jacksonville Jaguars facing the Philadelphia Eagles, the Seattle Seahawks playing the Oakland Raiders, and the San Diego Chargers trying to beat the Tennessee Titans.
That means the Bucs will not have played in London for seven years. The Glazers may own the Bucs, but they weren’t intent on moving there, or even playing there with any kind of regularity. Instead, they’ve worked to get fans back into their own stadium, with some but not overwhelming success.
Of course, the Bucs will inevitably return to London. With three games per year there and no signs of the NFL slowing down its international outreach, every team is going to end up playing there, after all.
Another reason, as pointed out by Greg Auman: Super Bowl hosts have to, eventually, play a game in London. And Raymond James Stadium will host a Super Bowl in 2021.
For now, though, Bucs fans still get to enjoy all of the team’s home games in Tampa. Which, given recent results, is a bit of a mixed blessing, to be honest.