NFL eyes second overseas game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After seeing fans jam London's Wembley Stadium to watch the NFL the past two years, the league is considering adding a second regular-season game overseas in time for the 2010 season.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday the second game could also be played in London or another location in the United Kingdom. The issue will be discussed at next week's league meetings and could be included in a larger plan to add up to two regular-season games to the NFL schedule.
"The fan reaction we've had in London has been extraordinary. We would like to feed that passion," Goodell said after speaking at the Charlotte Touchdown Club. "We have a great fan base in the UK. There have been discussions of taking the second game and playing it in another market in the UK. That's something that we'll evaluate."
While Goodell reiterated there are no plans to move the Super Bowl to London, he said a second regular-season game is drawing support from league owners.
"I think the teams have had a great experience that have gone over," Goodell said. "We've been able to build on that and I think teams recognize it's an honor and a privilege to go over and play there. And it can be done without impacting the team negatively."
However, some players have been critical of the overseas game because of the extensive travel involved in the middle of the season. One team also loses a home game in the arrangement, a potential competitive disadvantage.
Saints coach Sean Payton was critical of the "sloppy" field conditions at Wembley Stadium last season and the logistics involved in playing a "home" game in London.
The league did give the Saints and Chargers byes the week after the game. The Patriots and Buccaneers will also have a week off after this year's London game, which counts as a home game for Tampa Bay.
NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith could not immediately be reached for comment on the prospects of a second game overseas.
"The negative is taking the home game away from the fans," Goodell said. "It's another reason why potentially restructuring the season and changing two preseason into regular-season can be something that we find is beneficial to the fans."
Goodell spent about an hour before Tuesday's luncheon visiting with Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who is recovering from a heart transplant he received on Super Bowl Sunday. Goodell said "the Big Cat will be roaring pretty quick" and indicated they discussed issues on the agenda for the league meetings, which Richardson will not attend.
Goodell said he won't make a recommendation on adding an extra game or two to the schedule at the expense of preseason games and doesn't expect owners to vote on the issue next week.
The collective bargaining agreement will also be discussed, and Goodell said he expects talks with Smith will heat up in early June. The current deal expires after the 2010 season.
Goodell answered written questions from fans at the luncheon, including inquiries on Michael Vick and Brett Favre. One fan asked why a "convicted felon, Michael Vick, be allowed back in the NFL" after he finishes a prison sentence for a dogfighting conviction.
"I would put the emphasis on potential, because we haven't made a decision on that yet," Goodell said. "I think we all to recognize in this world that people make mistakes. I'm not condoning the mistake; what Michael did was horrific."
Goodell said he hasn't spoken to Favre in several months amid reports the quarterback is considering playing another season.
"I'm sure as the season gets closer he's going to want to play. It's just the competitive spirit that's made him so great," Goodell said. "But that's a personal decision. Whether teams are interested, they'll have to make a decision on whether it'll improve their teams."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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