Wednesday, February 7, 2007

London Calling

Apparently, England has been clamoring to see the NFL experience first-hand. When the first regular-season match outside of North America takes place on October 28 at Wembley Stadium in London, the Dolphins and Giants won't be playing for a half-empty house. In the three days following the NFL's official announcement, more than 500,000 tickets were requested. The stadium will hold between 85,000-90,000 come game day.

That figure is amazing. I think that a lot of people, myself included, have underestimated the overseas interest in the NFL and the possible markets they can provide. I think it's great that Commissioner Goodell has realized this and is actively looking to spread the brand that is the NFL. As a Dolphins fan, however, it is unfortunate that the team will have to give up one of its home games. Aside from the often ridiculous ticket prices, this move overseas serves as one more obstacle for the average fan to see their team in person. For those of you who decry this move as unfair for the Dolphins, it's not. For the next five years, it was voted that up to two games will be played outside the United States each season. I would imagine that each team will have to go abroad before it's all said and done, and I would rather have the Dolphins get it over with sooner rather than later while our expectations are still relatively low. This way, once the team has reestablished itself as a power, it will not have to sacrifice the advantages and comforts of a home game.


In other news, it looks like the league has listened to the advice of players like Jason Taylor and Champ Bailey concerning the punishment for substance abuse. Both Taylor and Bailey publicly argued that players caught violating the league's banned substance policies should not be allowed to earn postseason honors. Commissioner Goodell and the head of the players association Gene Upshaw have agreed to implement this punishment next season. It only makes sense that a player caught cheating in this manner should be barred from any awards or honors, and it is nice to see the league listening and responding to the concerns of its players. Of course, much of this controversy began when Shawne Merriman was suspended for four games and then went on to be selected for the Pro Bowl. I don't have anything against Merriman, and I'm sure he would have made the Pro Bowl without illegal supplements, but the fact remains that what he did was cheating and in doing so he compromised the integrity of the game. I'm glad that Taylor has smoothed things over with Merriman while the two are spending time together in Honolulu, and hopefully they will have a great game and lead the AFC to a win.

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