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NFL Europe Season To Proceed As Scheduled


Craig Nall is one of 14 Packers players allocated to NFLE.

NFL Europe will proceed as scheduled this season despite war in Iraq.

"There was a strong consensus to play the season," Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said after NFL owners decided overwhelmingly to send players overseas.

Players on the six teams have been practicing in Florida and will begin leaving March 25 and 26 for Europe to begin play April 4-5. Three of the teams are based in Germany, with the others in Spain, Scotland and the Netherlands.

The players had said they wanted to go despite fears about travel. They made that clear during a conference call among Doug Quinn, the senior vice president of NFL international, and the general managers of the six teams.

"We're an American business in Europe," Tagliabue said. "Like other American businesses, we have to continue on."

NFL Europe is primarily a training league that has turned out such stars as two-time MVP quarterback Kurt Warner of St. Louis and left tackle Barry Sims of AFC champion Oakland. It has existed in various forms for more than a decade but is considered more an investment to develop talent than a profit-making venture.

The three German teams are the Berlin Thunder, Frankfurt Galaxy and Rhein Fire. Some league officials had been concerned that anti-war and anti-American feelings in that country could make things difficult.

The other teams are the Amsterdam Admirals, Barcelona Dragons and Scottish Claymores.

The meetings officially got under way, with a variety of issues on the agenda. They started with Tagliabue's address on the state of the league.

The one that could have the biggest impact on the league involves a change in the overtime system.

A proposal would allow both teams to get the ball in overtime, instead of the current first-to-score-wins system. That comes after a season in which there were a record 25 overtime games, and 40 percent were won on the first possession.

The NFL's committee on diversity met for 90 minutes. But chairman Dan Rooney, the Pittsburgh Steelers' owner, said there was no decision on what action, if any, to take against the Detroit Lions in the hiring of coach Steve Mariucci.

Rooney had said after the hiring that the Lions failed to meet the new league guidelines to interview minority candidates. The Lions contend they were turned down by five candidates who believed Mariucci was sure to get the job in Detroit after being fired by the 49ers.

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