On this, the opening day of an NFL season destined to be among the Browns' most depressing, the Washington Post
has engaged in a thought exercise
. They envisioned a total league free-for-all where every current franchise could stay or move to any market it wished, based only on market factors.
"What if every owner was free to discard fans' opinions and move to the place where his or her franchise would be worth the most?" The Washington Post
proposed. "The football fans in us hate such a thinking exercise. But the economics writers in us love it."
In its model, the Cleveland Browns would flee to — of all places — Mexico City, a "huge market" that, like London, represents a "foothold in a global expansion strategy that could boost every NFL team's value, not just the ones moving there. If a change in passports helps the teams shake off their histories of heartbreak, all the better."
Only seven teams would relocate, according to the Washington Post
experiment, most of them from America's inland North region, the mid-century meccas of the Rust Belt and Great Lakes: Buffalo (to Brooklyn); Cleveland (to Mexico City); Detroit (to Toronto); and Cincinnati (to Las Vegas).
Jacksonville, San Diego and New Orleans were also pegged as teams who'd benefit from a move, to London (natch), to Orange County and to the "patch of highway between Austin and San Antonio," respectively.