NFL Going International?

Last year the NFL found success by taking two of its most anemic franchises -- the Cardinals and 49ers -- and selling out a regular-season game between them in Mexico City. If some in the power elite of the league have their way, the globalization of the NFL could include regular-season games in Canada -- with the Vikings being one of the teams considered to forfeit a home game in the process.

The home fans of the Vikings could find themselves missing out on one home game as early as 2008 if a recently-proposed plan by the NFL goes through. Starting in 2008, the league is looking at the possibility of playing two regular-season games outside of the continental U.S. The league experimented with the plan this season with a game between the Cardinals and 49ers played in Mexico City.

One of the places being looked to as a possibility is Canada. While it would likely be easier to send someone like Buffalo or Detroit across the border to play a "home game" in Toronto or Montreal, another distinct possibility is placing a game in Winnipeg, which has long supported the CFL. If that is the case, the Vikings are the closest NFL franchise to Winnipeg and would be a logical choice.

With heightened concerns over potential terrorist acts by sending U.S. teams abroad, it's unlikely that we'll see teams going to Germany, where Sunday's announcement was made and the country that hosts five of the six NFL Europe franchises. But, if push comes to shove, the Vikings could end up as one of the victims of the "globalization" of the National Football League.

* Vikings assistant coach Kevin Stefanski, whose title is assistant to head coach, met Brad Childress while completing an internship with the Eagles. He is the son of New Jersey Nets general manager Ed Stefanski, who played for former Pistons head coach Chuck Daly at the University of Pennsylvania.
* Former Vikings RB Onterrio Smith has struggled making any headway with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL due to a foot injury. Head coach Doug Berry said over the weekend that Smith's spot with the team is up in the air since he hasn't been able to personally see what the former NFL S.O.D. (Steal Of the Draft) can do if he isn't 100 percent. The CFL may be causing its own rift with the NFL. Not only has Smith, currently still under suspension by the NFL for multiple failed tests in the league's substance abuse policy, looked to reclaim his career with the Canadian Football League, but former first-rounder Ricky Williams – also under a one-year NFL suspension for substance abuse – has also joined the CFL ranks. Williams signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Argonauts over the weekend. Williams apparently received permission from the NFL to play – Dolphins head coach Nick Saban is reported to have asked what if any liability could be in hand if Williams is injured. Despite his suspension, Williams is still under contract with the Dolphins through 2008 – barring any more setbacks.
* For those worried that the Vikings are becoming the prime target of Los Angeles officials if a new stadium deal can't be worked out locally, they got another sour dose of reality. The Chargers, the primary prospect to move to L.A., has begun talks with both San Diego city and county officials about getting a new stadium and rumors of the Raiders being sold to former 49ers front men Carmen Policy and Eddie DeBartolo in a story in this week's edition of Sports Illustrated have been unceremoniously shot down – taking two of the top candidates for relocation temporarily off the NFL's radar.
* Former Vikings RB Butchie Wallace became a hero for the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe – rushing for 138 yards in the second half to lead the Galaxy to their fourth straight NFLE championship in a 22-7 win over the Amsterdam Admirals Sunday at Duesseldorf, Germany. Wallace, who had just one carry for five yards in the first half, blew up in the second half with 17 rushes and one touchdown to spark the victory and draw the attention of the rest of the NFL in the process.

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