The Denver Broncos this Sunday will be the road team when they play the San Francisco 49ers, but both teams will be a long way from the City by the Bay.
London’s Wembley Stadium will be the host venue when the Broncos take on old rival San Francisco as part of the NFL’s 2010 International Series, but it will not be the Broncos’ first foray into international competition.
Starting in 1987 when the Broncos played the Los Angeles Rams in London, Denver has played seven games as the NFL’s international representatives (that first game was on August 9, 1987 at old Wembley Stadium before a crowd of 72,786).
The Broncos are one of just two franchises, with San Diego being the other, to have represented American football on all four continents where the NFL has hosted a game, making Pat Bowlen’s franchise one of the league’s most popular and well-traveled, high praise for the level at which the owner has watched his team perform in his 27 years of ownership.
This will be the second game for the Broncos in London, but the Broncos have also played two other games in Europe (one each in Barcelona and Berlin), two more in Asia (both in Tokyo), one in Australia (in Sydney) and one outside the United States but still in North America (Mexico City).
For the record, the games and results are as follows:
1999 a 20-17 win over San Diego in Sydney
1997 a 38-19 loss to Miami in Mexico City
1995 a 24-10 win over San Francisco in Tokyo
1994 a 25-22 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders in Barcelona
1992 a 31-27 loss to Miami in Berlin
1990 a 10-7 win over Seattle in Tokyo
1987 a 28-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in London
Miami is the only other NFL team to play in seven of the ten countries in which the NFL has hosted a game.
The Broncos and the 49ers have been two of the most frequent NFL teams in international games, with San Francisco leading the NFL, having played in nine international contests, while the Broncos this week move into a tie with Dallas and Pittsburgh for the second-most games outside American borders, with their eighth appearance promoting NFL football and the Mile High City.