SBD/April 13, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 33: League Releases Preliminary Preseason Schedule

The NFL "unveiled its slate of preseason games Tuesday, despite the ongoing ominous lockout that threatens to prevent teams from taking the field this summer," according to Sean Leahy of USA TODAY. The league is "proceeding with its normal schedule-unveiling process this year" and "intends to release the regular-season schedule this month." The "specter of a lengthy lockout that lasts deep into the season could throw a wrench into the plans for a regular agenda in training camp and preseason," but if the preseason "kicks off as scheduled, it would be on Aug. 7 in the annual Hall of Fame Game" featuring the Rams and Bears. The dates and times of many preseason games "must be finalized, but teams know the opponents they'd play in each of the four weeks of the exhibition schedule" (USA TODAY, 4/13). In N.Y., Judy Battista wrote the labor uncertainty "could cause the preseason to be truncated if training camps open later than usual in August and the league tries to open the regular season on time, in the first week of September" (NYTIMES.com, 4/12).

Bucs may play in London's Wembley Stadium
for second time in three years
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: In St. Petersburg, Rick Stroud reports "for the second time in three years, Tampa Bay is expected to move a regular-season game from Raymond James Stadium to Wembley Stadium" in London. While the NFL "would only confirm Tuesday that the Bucs are among the teams being considered to play a regular-season game in London in 2011, they are expected to 'host' the Bears." It is "not surprising" that Buccaneers Owners the Glazers "would be receptive to moving a regular-season game from Tampa to London." The Glazers own EPL club Manchester United, and the Buccaneers were the "only team to have all 10 home games blacked out last season." Buccaneers QB Josh Johnson, who played in the team's previous London game against the Patriots in '09, said he has "no problem" with playing at Wembley again. But he added, "If they fixed the playing field, it would be something nice. But the field was unsafe. It's a soccer field, and players were slipping all over the place. Of course, I'd much rather play the game in Tampa, but I guess it is what it is" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/13). ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert wrote, "I'm a little surprised the NFL is going ahead with plans for a 2011 game in London, considering the logistics involved and the embarrassment of canceling an international contest because of a lockout. On the other hand, if they passed on this year, it could aid the NFL Players Association's argument that owners have been and continue to plan on a long and damaging lockout" (ESPN.com, 4/12).
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