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Giants, Bears set for 2007 NFL game in London

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Football will not necessarily mean soccer after this summer for the British.

News photoChicago Bears cornerback Devin Hester warms up before Friday’s practice in Coral Gables, Fla. The Bears
face the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI on Sunday in Miami.
AP PHOTO

On Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants will be the two teams that will meet in the first regular-season game held in London next season.

“The international popularity of the NFL grows every year,” said Goodell, who is going to survey his first season as the commissioner at the Super Bowl, which kicks off on Sunday between the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts and NFC champion Chicago Bears at Dolphins Stadium.

“The interest will be seen as the far corners of the world watch the Super Bowl this Sunday. That is a fascination we will build upon. London and its international stature adds to the impact of the game.”

The London game, which will be the second regular-season game to the one played in Mexico City in the 2005 season, is scheduled for Oct. 28 — Week 8 of the 2007 season — at the new Wembley Stadium.

On behalf of the British capital, London mayor Ken Livingstone spoke at the NFL International News Briefing at the Super Bowl Media Center.

“We are very pleased about having teams of the caliber of the Dolphins and Giants coming to London,” he said.

“We are looking forward to giving them a memorable experience. We are expecting nearly 10,000 American fans to travel to London to watch the game as well as from Europe.

“After London’s success in winning the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, our aim has been to bring to Londoners the best of all sports.”

At the International News Briefing, quarterback Eli Manning, younger brother of Peyton, who will start for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, and New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan attended, while Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was also on hand.

NFL owners voted last fall to play up to two games outside the United States every year for the next five years in an attempt to expand the recognition of the league overseas. The Dolphins-Giants game in London will be the kickoff contest of the international series program.

Meanwhile, Goodell, who succeeded Paul Tagliabue, personally hopes to have Japanese players in the NFL in the near future to help the league gain popularity in Asia.

“We have had a number of programs that have been designated to try to get younger players in Japan,” he said, “and otherwise, throughout the world to get an opportunity to play our game at a younger age with better fundamentals, so they can learn the game, play the game and hopefully be able to go on to the NFL.

“And we have programs developed with our spots on the NFL rosters to give international players a chance to develop their skills. I hope that (day) comes soon.”