Give commissioner credit for encouraging innovation
Posted: Monday May 21, 2007 12:03AM; Updated: Monday May 21, 2007 12:43PM
One quick headline, then the topic of the week:
NEWS FLASH: The Chiefs are likely to be the next international host for a regular-season game. Look for Kansas City to play in Germany against a still-to-be-determined foe -- probably in 2008. My guess is the opponent will be Buffalo, one of the non-division foes the Chiefs are slated to play at home in 2008, but we'll see.
"I think we're going to Deutschland,'' club president Carl Peterson told me last week. "All teams are eventually going to play a game outside the United States under the league's current plan. Our stadium's going to be under renovation for a couple of years, and if there's a good time for us to play a game overseas, it's probably next year.'' Plus, says Peterson, "My head coach is one-half German, and my defensive coordinator was born in Germany.'' Hmmm. Never knew that one-half-German part about Herman Edwards.
One other important factor here: No other NFL exec is as into NFL Europa (nee World League of American Football, nee NFL Europe, nee NFL Spring League That No One in America Gives Two Hoots About) and the idea of a developmental league as Peterson. He loves the concept of pushing football to a European audience, and he knows there's some significant fan interest in Germany -- Frankfurt drew 38,125 partiers for its opener with Amsterdam in April. It also doesn't hurt that the first 40,000 tickets to the first scheduled regular-season game on the continent, Dolphins-Giants Oct. 28 at Wembley Stadium in London, sold in 90 minutes. This international thing is here to stay, folks.
Which brings me to the point of this column: Roger Goodell is very quickly putting his mark on the sport, and he's doing it by having an open mind. People in the NFL office in New York hear the following from Goodell all the time, and they say it's not some cliché he's trying to use to impress people: "How can we do things better?"
You've seen the trial balloons floated in the past few weeks. A league official mentions the idea of a 17-game schedule to an Associated Press reporter, and soon it's the hot talk of every NFL blogger in the business. A Minneapolis reporter broaches the chance of the draft starting on a Friday night, with the first half of the first round possible for prime time. (Imagine the intrigue, by the way, of next year's Brady Quinn not being drafted in the first half of the first round, and ESPN and NFL network cameras trailing him out to a cry-in-his-prix-fixe dinner Friday night at midnight. Must-see TV!)
ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports the first stuff about the snail's-pace first-round timing likely being reduced from 15 minutes to, possibly, 10. (And hallelujah for that. Shorten the second round to five while you're at it, competition committee, and every other round to three minutes.) I'm writing the NFL-in-Germany likelihood. And Goodell loves it all.
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