What Do Players Really Think of the NFL's International Games?
Melvin Gordon, who has played in Mexico and London with the Chargers, weighs in
A two-time Pro Bowler who came in 34th on the NFL’s Top 100 list this season, Melvin “Flash” Gordon is one of the top running backs in a league that’s filled with them. Though he hasn’t racked up the same statistics this season as he has in years past after missing the beginning of the season due to a holdout, the 26-year-old still has an outside shot at scoring double-digit touchdowns and racking up at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage on the season for the Los Angeles Chargers.
A five-year pro, Gordon has spent his entire career with the Chargers and, thanks to the team moving from San Diego to Los Angeles prior to last season, has already called two California stadiums home, with a third possibly on the way. Gordon has also called two other stadiums his NFL “home”: The Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, where the Chargers hosted the Chiefs earlier this season for a game Kansas City won 24-17, and London’s Wembley Stadium, where the Chargers hosted in 2018 (though Gordon was unable to play due to injury).
According to Gordon, who also supports the homeless population of Orange County through his Beyond the Flash Foundation with help from sports apparel retailer Lids, taking part in the International Series has been an “amazing” experience.
“It was cool, man,” Gordon tells InsideHook of playing in Mexico City. “I didn’t really venture out too much but it was amazing to go out there. The atmosphere was actually crazy, with more fans than back at home. It felt good. It gives people something they don’t see often. Now they’re fans forever. It’s crazy a game can do that and people that play the game can do that. I could definitely tell even when we lost, they were still cheering hard for us. So we definitely put smiles on people’s faces. That’s really the biggest thing.”
When it comes to the topic of putting an NFL franchise in Mexico City or London on a full-time basis, though, Gordon is less certain.
“Honestly, I think it’d be tough, especially for people who have families, because you would have to be out there for awhile,” he says. “I don’t know how they would do the games, but flights by themselves are pretty tough. Unless you do eight straight home games and then eight away games, it’d be tough. Maybe in the future it’ll happen, but right now I think it’ll take a few more years for that to become something that’s a reality.”
What is a reality is that next season Gordon may have a chance to play in another new stadium, the Raiders’ new home in Las Vegas.
“I think it’d be a cool experience to play in Vegas at their new stadium,” he says. “I’m actually excited to play in there. I’ve had quite the success there in Oakland, but I’ve lost more games than I won, so maybe a change of scenery is better. I mean it is what it is. I don’t play for Oakland, I just play against them. So I know it’s probably bigger to the fans more than it is to me.”
Whether Gordon, who is currently in the final season of his five-year rookie contract, will actually play in Vegas next season remains to be seen.
“At this point, saying L.A. is going to be the home is up in the air,” he says. “I don’t know. I hope it is, but I guess we’ll see. I’m planning on being here. I’m going to give my all to whatever organization I’m at. Right now, it’s the Chargers, so I’m going to give my everything to them.”
That’s a noble goal, especially considering the Chargers’ infamously poor attendance numbers since moving out of San Diego.
“I don’t think we’ve been fully embraced, but L.A. is a place where they love winners,” Gordon says. “We had a good season last year, but for the most part we haven’t been winning as much as we would like to, and we get put on the backburner. But just thinking about how many teams are out here in L.A., how many teams get talked about? You have to win. It’s just part of being in a big market. They love winners.”
Speaking of winners, Clippers or Lakers?
“I like the Lakers because I really like LeBron,” Gordon says. “The Clippers have shown a lot of love to me and a lot of my teammates, but I’m going to go to with the Lakers. I’m a LeBron fan. There were a couple people saying he was washed up. I want him to get one and Kawhi [Leonard] just got one. I want to see what LeBron can do.”
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