Some thought the NFL would follow in the footsteps of Major League Baseball, which cancelled the season-opening series in Japan between Seattle and Oakland because of the threat of war in Iraq.
Teams are scheduled to report to Europe in a week and the 2003 NFL Europe season is scheduled to kick off on April 5. Despite rumors that suggested all NFL Europe regular season games would be played in Florida, the league said it's sticking to its original schedule while they monitor the impending war closely.
"We are monitoring developments, but at this point there has been no change in our plans to go forward with the NFL Europe season as scheduled," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
Tampa Bay allocated a franchise-high nine players to NFL Europe last month. Defensive tackles Buck Gurley and Josh McKibben, wide receivers Todd Elstrom and Jermaine White, tackle Kyle Kipps, safety Than Merrill, linebacker Idris Price, cornerback James Rooths and center Jason Scukanec were all allocated to NFL Europe on February 5.
The league also said the American Bowl, which is an annual contest that kicks off the NFL preseason, will go on as planned. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets are scheduled to meet in that contest on August 2 in Tokyo, Japan.
"We'll monitor (the war) closely if the situation still exists then, but right now we'll treat it as though it's a go," said Bucs general manager Rich McKay, who also serves as co-chairman of the NFL's Competition Committee.
In other news, the NFL expects to release the entire 2003 regular season schedule after its annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. The meeting starts on March 23 and will last approximately one week.