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NFL might ship two regular-season games to England in 2010, Goodell says

  • By Associated Press
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After seeing fans jam London's Wembley Stadium the past two years to watch an NFL game, the league is considering sending a second regular-season contest overseas in time for the 2010 season.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that the second game also could 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.

Stu Forster / Getty Images
Fans enter sold-out Wembley Stadium in London last year for the New Orleans Saints-San Diego Chargers game. Positive fan response has the NFL considering sending another game London's way.

"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."

The NFL first staged a regular-season game in London in 2007, when the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins 13-10. Last year, the New Orleans Saints beat the San Diego Chargers 37-32 at Wembley Stadium.

Both games were sellouts, and fans quickly gobbled up tickets for next season's Oct. 25 game between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While Goodell reiterated that 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."

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 NFL did give the Saints and Chargers byes the week after the game. The Patriots and Buccaneers also will have a week off after this year's London game, which counts as a home contest for Tampa Bay.

NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith couldn't 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 (games) 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 that he received on Super Bowl Sunday. Goodell said "the Big Cat will be roaring pretty quick" and indicated that they discussed issues on the agenda for the league meetings, which Richardson will not attend.

Goodell: Richardson progressing
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visited with Jerry Richardson for the first time since the Carolina Panthers owner underwent a heart transplant three months ago. More ...

Goodell said he will not 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 also will be discussed, and Goodell said he expects talks with Smith to 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 imprisoned quarterback Michael Vick and retired signal-caller Brett Favre. One fan asked why would 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 have 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 he's considering playing another season.

"I'm sure as the season gets closer, he's going to want to play," Goodell said. "It's just the competitive spirit that's made him so great. 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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