Some people, on reading the above headline, are already rushing in to inform us that we are idiots. “The NFL is the national football league of the United States. If a bigger football game happened somewhere else, that would be a football game, but it wouldn’t be an NFL game.”

Other people are thinking that we’re even stupider than those other readers think we are. “That football game in Mexico would be ‘football,’ but it’s not even the same sport as the NFL plays. It’s association football of course, otherwise known as soccer, and still otherwise known as fútbol. Soccer is huge in Mexico, both in the form of clubs that play each other and a national team that plays other countries, and it has absolutely nothing to do with American football."

Please, imaginary critics whom we just made up, have more faith in us. We are talking today about an actual NFL game from August 1994 that took place in Mexico City. Though it was an exhibition preseason game, two real NFL teams played: the Houston Oilers and the Dallas Cowboys. In the stands, 112,376 people watched the game. That makes it the biggest NFL game in history in terms of the in-person audience.

So how exciting was this game, which had more fans in the stadium than even the most-watched Super Bowl? Not very. These fans, many of whom would never see another American football game again, didn’t get to witness even one touchdown. The only points came from two field goals, both in the first half, both scored by the same guy, the Oilers’ Al Del Greco. 

Maybe the players were all thrown off because the venue, Estadio Azteca, was not meant for American football. Or maybe they were thrown off because heavy rains had churned the field into muck. Twenty-one years later, the NFL would play another game here, a more exciting one, the Cardinals beating the 49ers 31 to 14. This one would set a record for the biggest NFL game from the actual season, but the 1994 one was still the biggest game overall, and it remains so today. 

We don't see the record being broken anytime soon. No football stadium in America is big enough to hold that many people. Even Estadio Azteca has been renovated and no longer has the capacity. Only one football stadium in the world is currently big enough to sit over 112,000 fans. It's the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, and we don't foresee NFL teams traveling there in the immediate future. 

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Top image: Jymlii Manzo

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