NFL takes center stage on the world stage

Maybe the biggest sports business summit ever, with the biggest names in the industry today, will convene Thursday to kick off a landmark day-long meeting at London's exclusive Landmark hotel.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will deliver the opening address on a seminar about the changing face of the global sports industry, and the men who will follow him are a worldwide all-star collection of sports titans.

It is all a part of the NFL's week-long festivities leading up to Sunday's historic Giants-Dolphins game at Wembley Stadium. The summit will cover a wide variety of topics in the ever-changing sports-business world that complement today's games.

Included in the day's speakers are NFL owners Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins and Joel Glazier of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who also owns Manchester United.

Other sports owners speaking at the seminar include Tom Hicks of the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars; George Gillett Jr. of the Montreal Canadians and Evernham Motorsports NASCAR Team; and Stan Kroenke of the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Rams.

But it's not just North American sports leaders. The collection of speakers goes well beyond.

Also scheduled to speak at the symposium are Ian Ritchie, Chief Executive of The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club; Malcolm Speed, Chief Executive Officer of International Cricket Council (ICC); Peter Kenyon, Chief Executive of Chelsea Football Club; Dmitry Chernyshenko, Chief Executive Officer of Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Organizing Committee; Paul Deighton, Chief Executive Officer of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games; and Danny Jordaan, Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa.

Another panel will involve media executives, including George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports; Dick Ebersol, chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics; Terry McDonell, editor of the Sports Illustrated Group; Guoli Ma, Chief Operating Officer of Beijing Olympic Broadcasting; and Roger Mosey, Director of Sport for BBC.

It's an all-star collection in a week the NFL has been plotting for months.

Other business at hand

Before NFL owners can whisk off to London, there first is plenty of business to conduct Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The league will hold its annual fall meeting, and one of the issues that will generate the most discussion in front of full ownership is the Buffalo Bills' proposal to play pre- and regular-season games in Toronto.

The Bills already have petitioned the league to play a 2008 preseason game and a 2009 regular-season game in Toronto. The Bills also would like to extend the arrangement in Toronto for multiple years, knowing that the support that Canada provides is instrumental in Buffalo's success.

Toronto is about 90 miles from Buffalo, and an estimated 15,000 fans from Ontario are thought to travel to each Bills home game.

Playing future games in Toronto is not considered a part of the NFL's international series, in which the league hopes to play annual regular-season games in England, Germany and Mexico. But it is considered important to helping turn Buffalo into more of a regional franchise with a greater fan base.

No vote on the issue is expected to occur this week, but it is not far off. Owners know action must be taken. Bills owner Ralph Wilson turned 89 last week and his estate intends to sell his team in time.

Other issues that will get attention in Philadelphia include reducing the time each team gets in the first round of the draft from 15 to 10 minutes, and where the Pro Bowl will be played each year. The Pro Bowl has had a standing relationship with Hawaii, but this could be the last season the Pro Bowl is played there.

What Brown can't do for them

The worst part of Ronnie Brown's torn anterior cruciate ligament is not the effect it will have on the franchise this season, but in future ones.

With questions at running back, it's now conceivable the Dolphins could be forced to use next year's first-round draft choice on a running back instead of an imposing defender.

Miami's greatest needs are on defense, and LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey would look great in the aqua, coral, blue and white. But now Miami is going to have to at least weigh whether there's a running back worthy of its first-round selection, expected to be near or at the top of the April draft.

Losing Brown this season is painful enough. Thinking about the effect it could have on future seasons is even more painful.

Hallowed ground

No quarterback, ever, has played better over a seven-game regular-season stretch than Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has this season.

It's now to the point where Brady is playing as well over seven weeks as any athlete ever has in a regular season. He has entered the an exclusive Michael Jordan-Ted Williams-Wayne Gretzky territory, as hot as any athlete ever has been.

Through seven games, Brady has thrown 27 touchdown passes –- one less than his career best of 28, which he achieved in 2002 and 2004. He is on pace to throw 56 touchdowns, eviscertating the mark that Peyton Manning set in 2004 with 49.

Brady's is coming off a victory over Miami on Sunday in which he had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 –- the first perfect rasser rating for a Patriot since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Earlier this season, Brady wasn't far off from perfect, racking up a 150.9 quarterback rating during a win over Buffalo.

In his surefire Hall of Fame career, Brady has won three Super Bowls, two Super Bowl MVPs, but never has won the regular-season NFL MVP award. Ever.

Barring injury, that will be another first for Brady this season.

Gathering Moss

In May, after Oakland traded Randy Moss to New England for a fourth-round draft pick, veteran NFL writer Ron Borges spoke to former Raiders head coach Art Shell and offensive coordinator Tom Walsh about their former wide receiver.

Shell told Borges in comments published in the Boston Globe last May, "They'll find out Randy can't run consistently anymore. He'll drive Brady and Belichik crazy ... he's becoming an old man fast."

Walsh's prediction was just as dire after a season in which the Raiders deactivated Moss for their final three games. "Randy Moss is a player whose skills are diminishing, and he's in denial of those eroding skills," Walsh said.

Well, they have eroded to the point in which, this season, Moss already has 10 touchdown receptions and is on pace for 23, which would shatter the NFL single-season record of 22 that former 49ers great Jerry Rice set in 1987.

Moss has driven people crazy. It's just that those people are not Brady and Belichick.

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