Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Goodell: No immediate plans for NFL expansion, except Thursdays
INDIANAPOLIS - Sorry, Los Angeles. The only NFL expansion happening anytime soon is to next season's schedule of Thursday night games. During his annual Super Bowl news conference, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday that adding to the league's 32 teams "has not been on our agenda" and that he doesn't "see that in the foreseeable future." He also said the NFL wants "to keep our teams where they are." That apparently includes struggling Florida franchises in Tampa and Jacksonville, both the subject of periodic relocation rumors because of poor attendance and television blackouts.The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have failed to sell out 17 of their last 19 games at Raymond James Stadium (including four preseason games), forcing the games to be blackout from television in the local market. Goodell said there were 16 games blacked out in the NFL in 2011. Five of those were in Tampa Bay. He said the blackout policy would continue, even as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to open public comment about the policy that has been in effect since 1973. "We want our stadiums full and we want to remain on free television. It has to be balanced with driving people to your stadiums with offering your games on free television" Goodell said. "I think the policy has served us very well over four-plus decades. I believe that it's a balanced approach and we'll continue to go through the FCC process if they desire." Every club will appear on prime-time TV in 2012, thanks in part to new Thursday games that now will be scheduled from Week 2 through Week 15. All but Week 12 will be on the NFL Network. The NFL also kicks off its season annually with a Thursday night game on network television. Those games will be in addition to the usual Sunday night and Monday night games, which tend to feature teams coming off good seasons. Among other topics Goodell addressed: The NFL is trying to learn more about preventing and treating concussions, and more international games, including in Mexico. Goodell said that the league has a strategy to make the game "more successful on a global basis." The Rams and Patriots will play in London next season as part of that approach. Asked about playing games in Latin America, Goodell said there's a great deal of interest there and he would like to get back to playing a regular season game in Mexico. He said it's "something we'd like to get done sooner than later." Goodell said there are current discussions about setting up another game in Mexico. The NFL Players Association has concerns about playing games in London and how the travel will affect players. The Buccaneers traveled to London last season to play the Chicago Bears, the second time in three years Tampa Bay played in Wembeley Stadium. The Bucs had a 4-2 record when they landed in England for the "home" game on Oct. 23 but lost to the Bears, 24-18, and went on to lose their final 10 games of the season.
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