League eyeing more games outside of U.S.
NFL.com wire reports
DUESSELDORF, Germany (May 27, 2006) -- The NFL has proposed playing two regular-season games outside the United States starting in 2008, league officials said.
Mark Waller, head of NFL international development, said the proposal to play abroad was put to team owners in Denver. It came after the 49ers and Cardinals played last October before a regular-season record crowd of 103,000 in Mexico City.
The owners will discuss the issue again in October. The games would be played in Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany, where five of the six NFL Europe teams play.
"I will say the reception we got from the owners was incredibly positive -- all the questions were on the practical issues," Waller said.
Plans were also announced to add two more teams to the six playing in NFL Europe by 2010. Last year, owners gave the league a five-year operating license -- ending years of threatening to pull the plug on the operation because of the cost.
"It now gives us a platform to grow the game internationally with a concept of clarity," Waller said.
Outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue said developing the game internationally may rank as one of his top five accomplishments during his 16 years in charge.
"I feel the international initiatives we made, along with the owners, may become more significant over time," Tagliabue said.
The league's effort to make an impact internationally began in 1986, when NFL teams began to play preseason games overseas.
The German cities of Hanover and Leipzig are the leading candidates to get NFL Europe expansion clubs as the league concentrates on Germany. The Amsterdam Admirals are the only current NFL Europe team located outside Germany.
NFL Europe would then be split into two four-team divisions with the schedule expanded from 10 to 12 games. The league hopes to develop local stars for NFL Europe, as well as international stars in the NFL.
"It's clearly critical to the future of the game internationally," said Jim Connelly, managing director of NFL Europe.