NFL dangles a carrotInternational play gives T.O. hope
By ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media
|Receiver Antonio Freeman spikes the ball during an NFL exhibition game in Toronto in 1997. (Sun File/Alex Urosevic)
The more chances there are of getting an NFL game to Toronto, the merrier.
Such is the view of Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey, who applauded word yesterday that the NFL is considering another leap into international waters.
The league admitted it is considering adding a 17th regular-season game to its schedule as early as the 2009 season to enable every team in the league to play one game abroad.
"Every time Toronto can be exposed to the people in the NFL it opens another potential door to success," Godfrey said yesterday in a telephone interview.
Of more pressing concern, Godfrey admitted, is a recently completed bid to bring a regular-season game to the Rogers Centre next season.
Godfrey confirmed that a group headed by Ted Rogers and Larry Tanenbaum submitted its proposal for a 2008 NFL game.
If successful, Rogers Communications would present the game with Godfrey running the show.
The Jays boss, who has been campaigning to bring an NFL team to Toronto for decades, also acknowledged that the Argonauts were involved in the process.
"We indicated to the Argos that they would be very much a part of the process," Godfrey said. "We met with the owners and we invited them to be participants.
"We would run the game but would consult with them very closely and make them part of the celebration."
Included in the proposal will be a provision that Argos season-ticket holders will get first dibs on tickets for the NFL game.
Godfrey said it will also be recommended that an Argos home game be held within a couple of days of the NFL contest to create a football celebration.
Yesterday's revelation by the league continues the initiative of first-year commissioner Roger Goodell to expand the NFL's horizons beyond the U.S. border.
Already, Goodell pushed through a regular-season game in London, England next October between the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants.
"New commissioners bring new thoughts and any time he considers stepping out internationally is good news for us," Godfrey said.