Goodell sacks T.O.'s NFL hopes

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at his annual Super Bowl news conference in Dallas on Friday....

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at his annual Super Bowl news conference in Dallas on Friday. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

On Thursday night a window of opportunity appeared to blow open for rapid NFL fans who dream of securing a Toronto franchise.

In a TV interview on Costas Tonight, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about the possibility of an expansion team for the Los Angeles area.

His reply got lots of hearts in the Toronto area beating hard.

“We probably don’t want to go to 33,” he said, adding he prefers 34 teams.

So there it was. The 34th team surely would mean that Toronto would at least be in the conversation, that a bid would be in the works.

But that was Thursday.

On Friday, reality set in and the window that once appeared open was slammed shut by the same commish in his annual Q&A with the media during Super Bowl week.

Responding to a query from a member of the L.A. press corps regarding an expansion team, Goodell replied: “I will tell you that we have not talked about expansion in the league at all. It has not been on our agenda. It is not something that we focused on with our membership, and I don’t see that in the foreseeable future. We want to keep our teams where they are. We believe that it is healthier for the league in the long term.”

Just like that, the window wasn’t just slammed shut, it was also nailed shut.

No expansion. Period.

But for Toronto and NFL fans it got worse than later.

Much later in the news conference, Goodell was positive and encouraging about expanding the game into international markets such as Mexico and Brazil but the word Canada never popped out of his mouth.

If there is a global stage that the NFL wants to penetrate, Canada doesn’t appear to be very high on the list.

“We obviously, most importantly, would like to get back to Mexico with another regular-season game,” he said.

“We’ve discussed it with our partners in Mexico, and it is something we would like to get done sooner rather than later. We believe it can be successful and very good for Mexico and our fans. As I said, we have interest in Brazil.

“This is all about a collective strategy to make our game more successful on a global basis, and the effort that we are putting in in the U.K. and London as an example, are all designed to build a model that is going to grow our game and its popularity in the U.K.

“If that’s successful we will expand throughout Europe. The same thing is true in Mexico, and what we can do in Latin America if we’re successful there.”

Oh, Canada.

The best that NFL fans could hope for, is a continued relationship with the Buffalo Bills that brings one of their regular-season games to Rogers Centre. The original five-year deal is due to end in 2012.

“The series has been very helpful to the Bills, I think, in building that fan base,” Goodell said. “We have seen the kind of response and what it has done for season-ticket sales for them down in Buffalo and to try and help that franchise broaden their appeal. In those discussions, I have talked to both sides, and I believe there is a willingness and an interest to extend the agreement, and we will work to try and help support that.”

In other words, the dream of a NFL franchise is still just that — a dream, a distant one.


Videos

Photos