NFL commissioner Roger Goodell attends Formula One Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King, File

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is showing significant interest in a Hamilton team — just not the one you’re thinking.

On Sunday, Goodell made his way across the border to Montreal to take in the Canadian Grand Prix and was caught on camera shaking hands with British driver Lewis Hamilton ahead of the race.

The Formula One legend is tied for the all-time lead with seven World Drivers’ Championships and holds the record for most race wins (103), pole positions (103), and podium finishes (193). He is currently in fourth place on the circuit.

Goodell’s rare trip to Canada reportedly came at the invitation of Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, who has an ownership stake in F1. The Massachusetts native is also chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, Sirius XM, and TripAdvisor.

The NFL commissioner has spent significant time with Formula One Group CEO Stefano Domenicali and sat in on the regular pre-race meeting with all team principals on Sunday morning. The head of North America’s most powerful sports league is looking to the fast-growing sporting phenomenon for tips on how to maintain his place on top.

The Canadian Grand Prix has been held since 1961. With a rise in the sport’s popularity thanks to smash hit Netflix docuseries F1:Drive to Survive, it set a new viewership record in 2022 with an average audience of 1.7 million tuning in on American television.

Goodell has previously looked to Canada as a location for potential NFL expansion, though his focus has been Toronto rather than its bilingual counterpart Montreal. Toronto was raised as one of four potential expansion cities at a mid-season owners meeting in 2021 and the commissioner has said on the record that it would be “a great city for an NFL team.”

The lack of an appropriate stadium has hampered the desire to put a regular season game in Canada’s largest city as part of the International Series, though Goodell has stated that he would ‘love to see’ games played in Toronto. The Buffalo Bills played the role of the home team for the only regular-season games ever put on in Canada, which all came during the Bills in Toronto series, which saw declining success from 2008 to 2013 at the Rogers Centre.

Until something changes, Goodell will have to evaluate the Canadian market from Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The Canadian Grand Prix will begin at 2:00 p.m. EDT, with Max Verstappen of Red Bull as the -275 favourite.