DANA POINT, Calif. -- Nearly three years after punting NFL Europe into oblivion, Roger Goodell wants to bring back a developmental league.
The NFL commissioner raised the subject Wednesday at the league's annual meeting while discussing his desire to see the exhibition season shortened to expand the regular season to 17 or 18 games.
One issue is how teams would make up for losing the snaps they give younger players in August games in order to develop.
Quality is important to the NFL, and commissioner Roger Goodell knows that's not what the fans receive from four preseason games every year. That's why he wants to expand the league's regular season,
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"The way we look at the developmental league would be mostly in the offseason where players could get those reps and then have the opportunity to play in the NFL as they work into the season," said Goodell, who didn't have any specifics yet for a new developmental league. "That's the key. That's what we did with the NFL Europe structure, for example. That would be valuable, I think, as you look at how we develop our players."
League owners killed off NFL Europe in June 2007, insisting that after "significant investment," it was time to close the league and concentrate internationally on regular-season games outside the United States.
NFL Europe reportedly was losing about $30 million per season. Five of the league's six teams were in Germany, with the other in Amsterdam, when it was folded.
"If it was a developmental league, it should be done for that purpose, for the purpose of developing players," Goodell said. "So the commercial aspects, the international aspects, I think those would become secondary. That was my issue primarily with NFL Europe was that, what objective was it trying to meet? Was it trying to develop players? Was it trying to grow our game internationally, trying to be a commercial success?
"And then in the 2006 extension of the labor agreement, we lost any support from the players in respect to funding," Goodell said. "So the economics became dramatically different. That was the major reason why we decided to terminate it. So I think all of those things would have to be factored in and, of course, this would be part of the discussions of the collective bargaining process."
Star players often play little, if at all, in exhibition games, which coaches usually use to look at younger players. Goodell acknowledged that paying customers don't believe exhibition games are attractive for that reason.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press