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NFL bags European league

- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 30, 2007

NFL Europa, which helped mold Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brad Johnson, was shut down by the parent NFL yesterday.

The move came with up to three years left on the agreement that governed NFL Europa and despite record attendance in the six-team spring league this year.

Under first-year commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL is looking to expand the international audience for its own teams. The Miami Dolphins and New York Giants will play the first regular season game overseas on Oct. 28 in London. There likely will be a regular season game in Germany in 2008 with Canada and Mexico — where the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers played in 2005 — also possibilities.

"The time is right to re-focus the NFL's strategy on initiatives with global impact, including worldwide media coverage of our sport and the staging of live regular season games," NFL International senior vice president Mark Waller said in a statement. "We will continue to build our international fan base by taking advantage of technology and customized digital media that make the NFL more accessible on a global scale than ever before and through the regular season game experience."

NFL Europa was created in 1991 as the World League of American Football with 10 teams in the United States and Europe. Play was halted after just two seasons, but the league was reborn in 1995 as NFL Europe with six overseas teams. The six teams this year — five in Germany and one in the Netherlands — averaged 20,024 fans over 10-game schedules. Hamburg, quarterbacked by Washington Redskins prospect Casey Bramlet, won the final World Bowl last Saturday.

"NFL Europa has created thousands of passionate fans who have supported that league and our sport for many years and we look forward to building on this foundation as we begin this new phase of our international development," Waller said.

Note — LaVar Arrington will remain at Prince George's Hospital Center at least through the weekend according to his agent, Carl Poston. Arrington, a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Washington Redskins from 2001 to 2003, broke his right arm and right wrist and suffered deep lacerations on his arms and legs in a motorcycle accident on June 19.