ORLANDO, Fla. (March 29, 2006) -- With the Summer Olympics headed to China, why not the NFL, too?
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the league is considering playing a preseason game in Beijing next summer, one year before the Olympics are staged there.
The NFL has played exhibition games outside the United States regularly since 1986, although there won't be any this summer. Last Oct. 2, Arizona beat San Francisco in the first regular-season game played abroad, in Mexico. The Cardinals gave up a home game in Tempe, Ariz., to play in Mexico City, where they drew 103,467 to Azteca Stadium.
"I think the chances are increasing," said Tagliabue, who was in China last May and met with Beijing officials and Chinese Olympic executives. "We've had many discussions on that and our international people have been to China."
Several NFL owners have cited China as a new frontier the NFL needs to penetrate in a global marketing approach. The NBA already has succeeded in that area, in great part thanks to the popularity of Rockets All-Star Yao Ming.
While Tagliabue called the Mexico City game "a resounding success," no regular-season games will be played abroad this season. He did emphasize the need to "institutionalize" having such games, or the Pro Bowl, played outside the United States in the future.