NFL moving north?

Green Bay Packers receiver Antonio Freeman celebrates a touchdown in an NFL exhibition game at...

Green Bay Packers receiver Antonio Freeman celebrates a touchdown in an NFL exhibition game at SkyDome in 1997. The NFL is considering expanding its schedule to 17 games and Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal have made applications to host a regular-season contest. (Sun Media file/Alex Urosevic)

ROB LONGLEY, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 4:43 PM ET

The more chances of getting an NFL game to Toronto, the better.

That's the view of Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey, who applauded word Thursday that the NFL is considering another leap into international waters.

The league admitted it is considering adding a 17th regular-season game as soon as the 2009 season to allow every team in the league to play one game abroad.

The proposal is the latest by new commissioner Roger Goodell, who has made it clear he is open to expanding the game's popularity beyond U.S. borders.

"New commissioners bring new thoughts, and any time he considers stepping out internationally is good news for us," Godfrey, a long-time lobbyist to get an NFL team here, said in a telephone interview. "Every time Toronto can be exposed to the people in the NFL it opens another potential door to success.

"Our ultimate goal is to bring an NFL team to Toronto. If the NFL wants to expand ultimately to an international city, you can't top the track record of Toronto."

If approved, the 17th regular-season game would replace a pre-season contest allowing every team to play abroad once without giving up a home gate.

The league is making its second foray into presenting a regular-season game in a foreign land this October when the Miami Dolphins meet the New York Giants in London, England.

The league plans to add two more such games in 2008, with a Rogers Communications-led Toronto application one of four from Canadian cities. The other bids reportedly have come from Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal.

The league has issued no timetable as to when it will decide on those games.

As for the expanded schedule, the NFL said it is early in its research on the measure, although it clearly has the endorsement of new commissioner Goodell.

"It's preliminary, but we certainly are putting resources into pulling it together" Mark Waller, the NFL's senior vice-president for the international file, told the Associated Press.


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