Goodell, NFL Hoping To Add 2nd Game In London
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is interested in adding a second regular-season game in London and says the move will be discussed at the owners meetings this week.
“It’s been tremendously successful,” Goodell said before the Buffalo Bills’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. “Fan reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, and we want to build on that.”
The commissioner said the league was happy with the game it played in Mexico City in 2005 — the first regular-season game outside the United States — but noted the NFL is focusing on adding a regular-season game in England.
The league played its first regular-season game in London in 2007 when the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins 13-10. Since then, there have been three other annual games played at Wembley Stadium, and on Oct. 23 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on the Chicago Bears in the English capital.
Goodell said that game is still not sold out, but attributed it to tickets not going on sale until after the lockout ended.
The commissioner touched on several other topics during a 35-minute question-and-answer session with about 100 Bills season-ticket holders in a large suite overlooking the field.
With the Oakland Raiders flag flying at half-staff before the game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Goodell continued to pay tribute to Raiders owner Al Davis, who died Saturday.
Goodell said a moment of silence will be held prior to every game this weekend. He added, the Raiders are making plans to honor Davis by adding a designation to their uniforms.
“He really was a legend of the game,” Goodell said. “There’s not many people who had the kind of impact on the game. He was a commissioner, he was an owner, he was a coach, he was a general manager, and he was passionate about the game of football. He loved the NFL as much as anybody I know.”
Goodell also is happy with the “Bills In Toronto” games in which Buffalo is in the fourth year of a five-year agreement to play eight games — including five regular-season games — at Rogers Centre.
“I really think right now our focus would be on making what we’ve done here with the Bills playing the one game — and the preseason game every other year — into Toronto successful,” he said. “The more we work on that and focus on that makes it even better for this market and for Toronto, because for us it’s all one region in many ways.”
Goodell also reiterated his confidence, and provided the biggest assurance so far, that the Bills will stay in Buffalo. Bills owner Ralph Wilson has said that he will not sell the team as long as he is still living.
“I hope Mr. Wilson’s going to be around owning this team for a long time,” Goodell said. “I spoke to him on Friday. … Talk about a guy who loves the game of football, loves this community and loves the Bills. He has what he thinks are the right steps for the team. We will obviously work with him and work with the team to fulfill his wishes. I know he will do, and we are confident that we will do, what’s in the best interest of this community and the NFL in general. I think that’s being taken care of.”
Wilson, who turns 93 this month, broke his hip in June and the injury prevented him from attending the Bills’ first two home games.
Goodell, who is from nearby Jamestown, N.Y., attended Sunday’s game with friends and family members, including his brother Bill. He planned to watch the game from the stands.
“It’s a great stadium to watch the game,” he said. “The Bills, the state and the county have done a great job in continuing to make improvements in the stadium to keep it competitive. But you have to continue to do that.”