Steelers-Vikings Set For London In '13; Owners Approve New Free Agency Guidelines
The annual fall NFL owners meetings wrapped up yesterday in Chicago, and in addition to approving Jimmy Haslam III's purchase of the Browns, the league announced, as expected, that there will be two regular-season games in London next year. In addition to the previously announced game between the Jaguars and 49ers, the Vikings will host the Steelers at London's Wembley Stadium on Sept. 29, 2013. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "If we can play multiple regular-season games there, that gives you a better opportunity to be successful if you choose to put a franchise in London. But again, that is the other reason for putting two games in London -- we are trying to build that fan base in London" (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noted playing a second game in London is “an eye towards long-term,” because Goodell “has said -- and he wasn’t shy about it -- the hope is to put a team in London for good.” Rapoport: “What they’re trying to do is build this fan base, build this market and try to get London to latch onto the NFL. The suggestion was made to host a game in Ireland. They want it in London to get this fan base to totally buy in” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 10/16). In Minneapolis, Dan Wiederer notes Vikings co-Owner & President Mark Wilf said that playing in London will "grow the team's brand." Wilf said, "Just a unique opportunity to create great awareness and exposure for the team and for the state on our international stage" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/17).
WINDOW DRESSING: In DC, Mark Maske reported the NFL yesterday ratified a measure that "creates a three-day window before the opening of free agency during which teams will be permitted to negotiate with free agent players from other clubs." The measure was "recommended by the sport’s competition committee." Teams now will be "permitted to contact the agent for a player from another team who is eligible for free agency during the three-day window before the free agent market opens." But a contract "cannot be signed or submitted to the league office during that period." No direct contact is "allowed between a team and a player from another club eligible for free agency, and a player who is a prospective free agent cannot visit another team" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/16).