NFL might play one game abroad

Mexico could be the site for contest, Tagliabue says

Pro Football

February 05, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With his league soaring in popularity and having few problems, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue breezed through his annual pre-Super Bowl address to the media yesterday, offering up a regular-season game played abroad as the only new issue of substance.

Tagliabue said the NFL is checking into the possibility of playing one regular-season game in another country, with the probable destination Mexico. The league has hosted a number of exhibition games in Mexico and Europe but has never held a meaningful game outside the United States.

The NFL is also thinking about playing a preseason game in China leading up to the 2008 Olympics.

"We are giving the consideration right now whether in a year or two to play a regular-season game outside of the Unites States to continue to develop an interest," Tagliabue said.

Tagliabue fielded questions ranging from the relocation of a team to Los Angeles (which he hopes will be done before the end of the decade) to whether he is surprised there could be another potential dynasty in the salary-cap age (he is not), but the only repeated inquiries came about the site of the Super Bowl.

Jacksonville is the smallest market to host the Super Bowl. The city, with its lack of downtown hotel space, was forced to rent a number of cruise ships to house visitors. Tagliabue defended the decision to have the game there.

Shortly after, Tagliabue addressed switching late-season prime-time games that have little meaning with better ones originally scheduled for Sunday afternoons, a topic that has been discussed for two years.

The league is still negotiating television extensions with ABC and ESPN, both owned by Disney, about the prime-time packages. The league is also considering a Thursday-Saturday night deal, one Tagliabue hinted could be placed on a new network.

Tagliabue also discussed extending the collective bargaining agreement with the players association, though he said there are differences between the sides. The current deal ends in 2008. "We have a long way to go," Tagliabue said.

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