Saints to play game in London

Chargers President Dean Spanos said he was “cautiously optimistic” that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce next week that the Chargers will play a 2008 regular-season game in London, England.  The game, which would be only the second regular-season game ever played outside of North America, would be against one of the Chargers’ road opponents.

“The Commissioner and I talked about two and half months ago and we talked again as recently as last week,” said Spanos, a member of the NFL’s International Committee.  “Should this occur, we would welcome the opportunity.”

“This would be a positive announcement in a number of ways.  First, it shows that the Chargers clearly have become one of the NFL’s marquee franchises; a team with a strong following that the League is proud of.  Second, it would be good exposure for our organization, for the players and for the city of San Diego.  And finally, I believe it would give the team added experience from playing in another big game.”

Last season the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins played in London in Week 8.  The Giants won the game, 13-10, and both teams had their off weekend following that game.  The Giants now find themselves playing in Super Bowl XLII.

In recent years, the Chargers have played three games overseas, though they were all preseason games.  The Chargers played the Giants in Berlin, Germany in 1994; the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tokyo, Japan in 1996, and the Denver Broncos in Sydney, Australia in 1999.  At the end of the 1994 season, the Chargers played in Super Bowl XXIX in Miami.

Though the entire NFL schedule is not expected to be announced until April, it’s anticipated that the game in London would take place in Week 8 (Oct. 26) and the participants would have a bye in Week 9.

Head Coach Norv Turner took a more pragmatic approach.

“It would be a good experience for our team and our players,” said the veteran coach who was part of the Dallas Cowboys staff when they played in London in 1993, “but we’ll just play the schedule they give us.  No matter where the game is, we’ll prepare as we always do and be ready to play.”

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