By Ross Tucker
May 08, 2009

The NFL having a Super Bowl on foreign soil, most likely London, is inevitable and I don't have any problem with it. That said, I know a lot of you think having the crown jewel of American sporting events outside the country is enough to make your skin crawl. But I think that line of thinking is shortsighted and unrealistic. You have to look at the NFL as a business.

The league is as popular as ever, as evidenced by the 39 million people who watched the draft last month. Yes, that's right, more people watched the annual selection meeting of college players than they did playoff action or marquee matchups in the other big American professional sports. How much more popular can the NFL get in the United States?

The room for growth and expansion is across the pond, and Commissioner Roger Goodell and company realize that. Baseball and basketball have grown exponentially internationally over the last 20 years, with the increase in competitions like the World Baseball Classic and the Olympics as proof of that. If those sports can catch on elsewhere, why not attempt to spread the word about our most popular and exciting diversion? And with the real product, not the old NFL Europe model.

The Super Bowl is already a huge event worldwide, but holding one in Europe would make it even bigger and could possibly be the trigger that spurs some meaningful growth of America's passion elsewhere.

I could make a compelling argument that playing a Super Bowl abroad is better than shipping a regular-season home game over there. For the loyal hometown fans, a regular season game is one of the eight glorious days that they look forward to and pay good money for every year. The Super Bowl, on the other hand, is already an outrageously expensive neutral site game. It is pretty much mainly high rollers paying top dollar for the tickets at this point anyway. How many true fans of the teams playing in the game really go to the Super Bowl? The vast majority watch it on TV and wouldn't be affected at all by a move abroad, assuming issues like weather, field conditions and kickoff time can be worked out.

I'm aware of the financial impact the big game has in the cities in which it is played here in the U.S., but I think that can be easily trumped by the economic impact it could have on the entire league if the game can get some more traction internationally. I also know that if a team like Cleveland happened to make the Super Bowl that year, its fans would be devastated because the added expense to travel abroad might be too much to bear, and I can certainly sympathize with those people. The point is we live in a global economy, like it or not, and I think we should embrace the eventual expansion of our premier sporting product elsewhere as opposed to fighting it.

Let's see what's in the mailbox this week ...

From a news feed: "Rookie LB Tyrone McKenzie tore his ACL at the Patriots' first offseason minicamp. He'll be placed on injured reserve, ending his season." And possibly his career.

Weren't you the one talking about the extra wear and tear on players an extra two games would entail? But your column in support of more rookie minicamps seems like a little bit of a double standard.--Randy, Lincoln, Neb.

I think there is a big difference between adding two extra regular season games and having a rookie mini-camp with shorts on. But I will grant you that every time a team takes the field in any capacity there is the potential for injury and teams need to be cognizant of that. To say that a rookie tearing his ACL in the first on-field activity of the year is a result of too much wear and tear, however, is a bit of a stretch. It was an unfortunate incident for McKenzie but I still think the benefits significantly outweigh the costs, and if teams were that worried about injury they wouldn't all hold the maximum 14 OTA practices with most if not all of their veteran starters in attendance.

Why all the negativity over Mark Sanchez? OK, Matthew Stafford is who you like, but let's be objective. Stafford has a "bazooka," but for now that is about all. Sanchez's arm is more than adequate and is more Pro ready than Stafford as per the scouts. Do you know anything about the USC program and how the QBs are brought up through the system? USC fans did not want to sit through two seasons of John David Booty, but he had the experience and Sanchez had to wait his turn. As for reality, on the field, as you say, is where it matters. So, can you quit with the Sanchez bashing until he shows he can't do it on the field? Or at least balance your articles with Stafford's shortcomings, or is it your contention Stafford's "Bazooka" arm alone will render those shortcomings moot?-- Richard Galvan, San Diego

I got a boatload of e-mails like this one and I was a bit surprised because I didn't really feel like I was bashing Sanchez though I can see how some might have taken it that way. I completely agree that we should really reserve judgment until he takes the field. And not just over one year, mind you, but at least three NFL seasons before we decide to classify him as a star or a bust. Actually, I think there is a pretty good chance, based upon the people with whom I have spoken, that Sanchez will end up being an effective NFL quarterback.

My point is he should be evaluated primarily on what he has done on the field and judged accordingly, and I just got the sense that a lot of people were becoming enamored with him because of how he conducts himself off the field. Though that is admirable, it is not exactly a reason to have a guy skyrocket up your board or feel like you simply have to have him.

One sad thing about this story is that the fans never even gave Sage Rosenfels a chance. Now that the Brett Favre rumor mill is churning, the majority of people that call themselves fans don't even care if Jackson has progressed or if Rosenfels will do better. They will be upset when/if it doesn't work out with Favre, and they're going to blame Brad Childress for everything. Public opinion, popularity and ticket sales are going to drive the Favre situation, while winning the championship becomes an after thought. Can the old man still play? If you ask destiny, probably. Reality might say otherwise though. I suppose it will be worth it if it helps keep the Vikings in Minnesota.-- Peter Winberg, St. Paul

The latest reports indicate Favre has changed his mind, surprise surprise, and will be staying retired. I will believe it when I see it. I have no problem with Favre wanting to continue his career and keep playing, but I have lost a lot of respect for him over the last couple of years as a result of his waffling and his juvenile desire to prove something to Ted Thompson. Favre used to be one of my favorite players and now I just think his situation is sad on many levels.

Why is everyone in such a scurry to push Brady Quinn out of Cleveland? Most of us loyal Browns fans would like to see him stay and play!-- John Gregory, Akron

Eric Mangini and the new regime in Cleveland are the ones who paid the roster bonus to Derek Anderson and let the information get out that Quinn was available via a trade, not me. They didn't draft him and don't feel the same loyalty that Phil Savage would.

I'm trying to get a workout so I can be invited to a mini-camp and prove that I am worth an investment. What do I need to do to get in touch with some coaches because I don't know what my agent is doing. But I'm being very patient and believing in God for a breakthrough.-- Deral Miller, Detroit

The old saying that the hardest part about making the NFL is just getting the opportunity is absolutely true, Deral. With teams held to 80-man roster limits in training camp, you literally have to be one of the best 2,500 players in the world to even get a chance in pads. I was extremely fortunate to get mine and make the most of it.

If you are out of college, your best chance would be to find a way to get some type of professional game film by either playing in Canada or in the Arena League (if it ever operates again), and then absolutely dominating those levels of competition. Outside of that it is incredibly difficult to get a look, though I remember a couple guys just showing up at training camp for some teams that I played for and imploring anybody within the organization to give them a tryout, which actually happened believe it or not, one of which took place in the parking lot if my memory serves me correctly.

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