LONDON — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL’s overseas success doesn’t mean the Super Bowl is crossing the Atlantic or that the league is going back to continental Europe.
Goodell said the expansion from two to three NFL regular season games starting next season has the league exploring how to continue growing its International Series brand. More games could come to London, which will need a franchise before it can even dream of hosting the Super Bowl. And that is some time away.
“We don’t have a timetable for (a London franchise). We want to continue building interest, and if it continues to go well we believe a franchise could be here. The Super Bowl won’t be played anywhere where we don’t have a franchise,” Goodell said on Saturday.
“Right now, our focus is on the U.K. since the European fans can get here. We want to build on our success here, and whether it leads to a permanent franchise or not, then we can see. What happens here will dictate that.”
Goodell said demand from NFL teams to play in London was more than it could handle, and that a game could be held in Sunday prime-time hours next year. Monday and Thursday night games in London have been ruled out, as has holding preseason games or the Pro Bowl overseas.
Photo: The San Francisco 49ers have arrived in London to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second game of the 2013International Series.
Goodell applauded the Jacksonville Jaguars for embracing the International Series, with the Florida-based team signed up to play four regular season “home” games at Wembley Stadium over four years. The first is on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
“Jacksonville is an interesting experiment. I think fans there see that it’s good for their community, that it’s putting Jacksonville on a global stage,” Goodell said while addressing some Jaguars fans complaints about losing one home game over these four seasons. “Whenever there is going to be change, there is going to be resistance to change.”
Goodell met with a selection of NFL fans alongside 49ers great Joe Montana and former Jaguars offensive lineman Tony Boselli on Saturday.
The enthusiasm of overseas NFL fans was palpable inside the Grand Ballroom of the Landmark Hotel, with a scattering of NFL team jerseys in the audience featuring names such as Brady, Kaepernick, Bettis and even Tebow.
But it was Montana who won fans over when asked what he would do if appointed NFL commissioner for a day.
“I’d put a franchise over here,” Montana said.
President Barack Obama says he would “think about changing” the Washington Redskins’ name if he owned the football team as he waded into the controversy involving a word that many consider offensive to Native Americans.
Obama, in an interview with The Associated Press, said team names such as the Redskins offend “a sizable group of people.” He said that while fans get attached to the names, nostalgia might not be a good enough reason to keep them in place.
“I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” he said in the interview, which was conducted Friday.
An avid sports fan, Obama said he doesn’t think Washington football fans are purposely trying to offend American Indians. “I don’t want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team and rightly so,” he said.
But the president appeared to come down on the side of those who have sharply criticized the football team’s name, noting that Indians “feel pretty strongly” about mascots and team names that depict negative stereotypes about their heritage.
Other professional sports teams have Indian names, including football’s Kansas City Chiefs and baseball’s Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians.
Numerous colleges and universities have changed names that reference Native Americans. St. John’s changed its mascot from the Redmen to the Red Storm, Marquette is now the Golden Eagles instead of the Warriors and Stanford switched from the Indians to the Cardinal.
The Redskins’ name has attracted a fresh round of controversy in recent months, with local leaders in Washington calling for a name change and some media outlets refraining from using the name. The name is the subject of a long-running legal challenge from a group of American Indians seeking to block the team from having federal trademark protection.
Congressional lawmakers have introduced a bill seeking the same goal, though it appears unlikely to pass.
Opponents of the Redskins name plan to hold a protest Monday outside the NFL’s fall meeting in Washington.
Team owner Dan Snyder has vowed to never abandon the name. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that the league should pay attention to those offended by the name — a subtle change in position for Goodell, who had more strongly supported the name in his previous statements this year.
Despite the controversy, an AP-GfK poll conducted in April showed that nationally, “Redskins” still enjoys wide support. Nearly 4 in 5 Americans don’t think the team should change its name, the survey found. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren’t sure and 2 percent didn’t answer.
TEAM RESPONSE: The Washington Redskins released a statement through their attorney in response to President Obama’s comments:
“As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the President is not aware that in the highly respected independent Annenberg Institute poll (taken in 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the ‘Washington Redskins.’ The President made these comments to the Associated Press, but he was apparently unaware that an April 2013 AP poll showed that 8 out of 10 of all Americans in a national sample don’t think the Washington Redskins’ name should be changed.
“The Redskins respect everyone. But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama’s hometown), the fans love their team and its name and, like those fans, they do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group. The name ‘Washington Redskins’ is 80 years old – its history and legacy and tradition. The Redskins’ fans sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ every Sunday as an expression of honor, not disparagement.”
The NFL draft is moving two weeks later than usual, at least for 2014.
The league announced today (Tuesday) that the 2014 NFL Draft will be held May 8 to 10 at Radio City Music Hall. The league also was considering moving the draft to May 15 to 17 because of scheduling issues at Radio City Music Hall, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed last week at the NFL Spring Meeting.
“The decision was made after discussions with club personnel and key NFL business partners. No decision has been made regarding the dates of the NFL Draft in 2015 and beyond. A variety of alternatives are being explored, teams were told, including holding the draft at Radio City or at other locations, either in the New York area or in other cities,” the league said in a statement Tuesday.
There have been discussions about dramatically changing the offseason calendar including the dates of the NFL Scouting Combine and the start of free agency, but those possible changes won’t happen until 2015 at the earliest. The NFL announced the 2014 dates of those events, which are at the same time as previous years.
The National Combine in Indianapolis will be held from February 18 to 25. The new league year and free agency will begin March 11, 2014. The NFL Annual Meeting will be held in Orlando, Fla., on March 23 to 26.
The NFL’s original preference was for the combine to happen in March, with the league year beginning in April and the NFL draft in May. However, no (required) agreement was reached with the NFL Players Association on changing the start of the league year.
The NFL’s release pointed out that the change in the date of the draft won’t have any effect on when rookies will be able to report to their clubs or the length of the offseason program in 2014. They also don’t plan to reduce the number of practice days for 2015.
This looks like a “trial” year for the draft in May. If it goes well, we can expect the already-long “draft season” to add a few more mock drafts.
The NFL draft provides football fans with a peek into the exhilaration that comes with entering the league. Far less publicized is a player’s exit from the game, which carries its own emotional weight.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the NFL Spring Meeting in Boston that he had met with league officials about ways to better service players when their careers are over. Those talks Tuesday included discussions with NFL senior vice president Troy Vincent, Goodell said.
“We look at our players from a total wellness standpoint,” Goodell said. “It’s not just a physical wellness, it’s a mental wellness. And what can we do to try and make sure that we’re helping our players make the transitions through life and to make sure they’re getting the kind of help they need at any point.”
Goodell added: “And today one of the focuses was the cutdown process as an example. How do we make the process more dignified? It is in some cases the last experience a player has with a team or any team in the NFL. So we have to do a better job of doing that in a humane way and a way that will make sure they understand the respect we have for them and the pride we have in what they accomplished.
“Make sure they understand what they’ll be experiencing as they separate from an NFL team and make sure they have the services that are available to them, which we provide and we think can be incredibly valuable to them.”
If you’ve ever watched HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” you know the process of cutting players gives that series some of its most heart-wrenching moments. It’s a traumatic time for any player, and exploring ways to help them through that process makes sense for the NFL.
Dan Hanzus | NFL Around the League Writer
The NFL’s effort to change its offseason calendar is starting to make some progress.
The NFL and NFL Players Association are working toward a deal to move the 2014 NFL Draft to May. It likely would start as a one-year trial before deciding if the May move makes sense.
The likely target start date for the 2014 draft is May 15. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sets the date of the draft, provided it’s within the agreed-upon window. May 15 would be.
It’s likely happening in 2014 because of a scheduling conflict. The Radio City Rockettes show, “The Spring Spectacular,” is scheduled to be held at Radio City Music Hall in late April, when the draft usually is held.
“We’re actually getting bumped by the Easter Bunny. They’re going to have an Easter show. We’ll be prepared for that,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month on “The Rich Eisen Podcast.”
No other league calendar changes are yet agreed upon or imminent.”None of that has been decided,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Around The League in an email Monday. The league also has considered moving the date of the NFL Scouting Combine and the start of the league year.
Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith have had some communication on possible calendar changes. The NFL can move events like the draft without union approval, but it cannot change the start of the league year.
The Dallas Cowboys’ hopes of using defensive tackle Josh Brent’s salary to help free up salary cap room took a hit when Brent’s trial for intoxication manslaughter was set for Sept. 23. A Dallas County grand jury in December indicted the defensive lineman in the wake of a Dec. 8 crash in the Dallas suburb of Irving that killed teammate Jerry Brown.
There is little chance Brent plays again for the Cowboys. But his $630,000 is still on the books for next season. The Cowboys put him on the reserve non football injury list at the end of last season and can do the same in 2013.
Any hopes of the salary-cap strapped Cowboys have of using his salary to clear space this year so they can sign some free agents now rest with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The Cowboys need Brent to be suspended under the NFL’s Personal Conduct policy so they can get the salary cap room back. But last week NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Goodell wouldn’t rule on Brent’s status until his case was resolved with the courts. If the Cowboys hope to get money back to use in free agency they need Goodell to rule on Brent’s case earlier.