NFC South: Giants Stadium

NFC South afternoon update

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
5:43
PM ET
The practice reports are coming in very fast from all around the division this Wednesday afternoon. So let's run quickly through a bunch of news and notes from all precincts.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

It appears as if cornerback Anthony Gaitor, who had been sidelined by a hamstring injury, will make his season debut Sunday against Philadelphia. That couldn’t come at a better time for the Buccaneers because Eric Wright is serving a suspension and LeQuan Lewis has a knee injury that could hold him out. Gaitor could get instant playing time behind starters E.J. Biggers and Leonard Johnson.

Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said an ESPN report that he pursued the coaching job at Boston College was inaccurate. But there also are rumblings that Tampa Bay special assistant Butch Davis could be a candidate for the job at Florida International University. The Boston College job already has been filled, so that’s not even an issue for Sullivan and the Bucs. But Davis, who has been a head coach on the college level and has ties to South Florida, certainly seems like a logical option for Florida International.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Defensive end Junior Galette, who missed four games with an ankle injury, practiced Wednesday. If Galette is able to play Sunday, he could provide a boost for a pass rush that’s been pretty ordinary.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo said he admires MetLife Stadium, but said it doesn’t mean as much to him as Giants Stadium. Spagnuolo had a couple of years as a New York assistant, including the 2008 season in which the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Quarterback Cam Newton said Wednesday that no job (not even his own) is safe right now. I think that’s true for just about every other member of the Panthers. But Newton’s job is safe going forward. The team has a lot invested in him and whoever the team ends up hiring as the new general manager likely will have to convince owner Jerry Richardson he can win with Newton.

ATLANTA FALCONS

On the same day Atlanta safety William Moore was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, he missed practice with a hamstring injury. The Falcons could have their depth tested in the secondary as cornerback Asante Samuel also missed practice with a shoulder injury. The Falcons can turn to Robert McClain and Christopher Owens if Samuel is unable to play Sunday. Chris Hope would be the likely replacement if Moore has to miss any time.
Breakdown: The Panthers could be a sacrificial lamb of sorts as they open the regular season in the new Giants Stadium. But the good news is they follow that up with home games against the Buccaneers and Bengals. That could get John Fox off the hot seat, at least temporarily.

The Panthers could see their former quarterback Jake Delhomme when they go to Cleveland on Nov. 28, assuming of course Delhomme hasn’t already played his way out of the lineup. The Panthers will get to know the Ravens pretty well, traveling to Baltimore in the preseason and hosting the Ravens on Nov. 21. The Panthers also will face the Steelers in the preseason and regular season and both games are in Pittsburgh.

Complaint department: There’s a chance that the Panthers could be playing in cold weather, something they’re not particularly good at, in six of their final seven games. Weather in Charlotte in late November and December can go either way, but the Panthers also have to make late-season trips to Cleveland, Seattle and Pittsburgh. There also is only one prime-time appearance, which probably doesn’t sit too well with owner Jerry Richardson.

Welcome back Julius: Bank of America Stadium sometimes gets knocked for hosting a wine-and-cheese crowd. But I’m guessing it will seem more like the game’s being played in Philadelphia when the Chicago Bears come to town Oct. 10. They’ll be bringing Julius Peppers with them. He once could have been King of the Carolinas. But he never was comfortable in that role and forced the Panthers to get rid of him. Peppers also has been taking some pretty blatant shots at the Panthers since he signed with the Bears.

Panthers Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, at New Orleans, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, San Francisco, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, at St. Louis, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, New Orleans, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at Seattle, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, Arizona, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Thursday, Dec. 23, at Pittsburgh, 8:20 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at Atlanta, 1:00 PM


Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


TAMPA, Fla. -- Humorous moment out here in the media room at One Buccaneer Place this afternoon.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who is not known for being one of the more colorful interviews in the NFL, ran into legendary Tampa Bay radio (WDAE-AM) reporter Whitney Johnson, who is one of the more colorful characters I’ve ever met, on the conference call.

Johnson, as is his tact, waited until all the other reporters had asked their questions to turn to his off-beat questions. Johnson asked Coughlin if he was celebrating Bruce Springsteen’s 60th birthday Wednesday.

That actually drew a laugh from Coughlin, who then revealed it’s also the birthday of Giants assistant coach Chris Palmer.

Johnson then asked Coughlin if he was planning on attending Springsteen’s upcoming concert at Giants Stadium.

“I think my night is occupied,’’ Coughlin said.

Eli Manning's about to do his conference call with the Tampa Bay media. We'll see if Johnson asks him about "The Boss."
 
  ESPN.com Illustration
  London has reportedly launched a bid to host the Super Bowl some time in the next decade. Should the NFL export its marquee event?

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas and Paul Kuharsky

The Super Bowl, America's greatest sporting event, could be played outside the United States as early as 2014.

At least that's what some reports are suggesting. London, which already has hosted two regular-season games and is scheduled to hold a third this year, seems to be at the top of the list for the first overseas Super Bowl.

Is it possible and is it practical to put American football's spectacle in the land of soccer? Pat Yasinskas and Paul Kuharsky debate the merits, logistics and chances of a London Super Bowl.

Would a Super Bowl outside of the States be un-American?

Paul Kuharsky: Pat, I know you were in London for a game last year and have a better sense of how this would play over there than I do. And I'm no xenophobe; I don't want to call it un-American. But I do think proselytizing our football to this degree runs counter to present-day American interests. A Super Bowl funnels a lot of money into the host city, and any qualified city in America could use it -- no matter the state of the American and world economies in 2014.

Sure, a load of NFL fans are priced out of their team's biggest moment when the game is played in the lower 48. How many more won't be able to even consider it when they'd need an overseas flight and a London hotel room? A lot of hardcore football fans would not take this well at all. Is it worth alienating people who buy jerseys and tickets and paint their faces in an attempt to soften up foreign populations you may have no chance of winning over?

Pat Yasinskas: I'm going to say something I thought I'd never say before I traveled to London for last year's regular-season game between the Saints and Chargers. I'm all for a London Super Bowl.

 
  Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
  Wembley Stadium in London has been host to two NFL regular-season games and could be a venue for an overseas Super Bowl.
The atmosphere in London for that game was simply amazing and I think it would be 100 times bigger for a Super Bowl. Sure, I'm a little hesitant about taking the economic impact out of the United States. But you've got to think big picture here. The economics are going to grow throughout Europe and throughout the NFL by placing the game in London. Really, can the Super Bowl get any bigger than it already is in the United States?

London, all of Europe and the rest of the world still are largely untapped and it's time to tap them. I still think there will be huge economic benefits to the U.S. in terms of sponsorship, television and the sale of merchandise. People are still going to watch the game on television, and isn't that really what the Super Bowl is all about? Think about it, how many people do you know who actually have been to a Super Bowl? The common person watches it at home. The people who actually go to the game are the corporate types, and they're going to go no matter where it is (a lot of Saints and Chargers fans came to London last year and made it a vacation). In fact, I think you'll have a much easier time selling outrageously priced tickets in London than you would in recent venues like Detroit and Jacksonville. It's time to truly open the Super Bowl to the world.

Wouldn't the logistics create some nightmares?

Pat Yasinskas: Yes, there's no doubt that a Super Bowl in London would present some major challenges. Start with the time difference. London is five hours ahead of the East Coast and eight ahead of the West Coast. That's the biggest issue of all because it impacts television, which is the driving force behind the Super Bowl. Do you play the game in the same evening time slot it's been in and start the Super Bowl late at night in London? Or do you cater to the audience in the stadium and start the game in the middle of the afternoon back in the States? That's a huge issue for the NFL to work out, but I'm thinking a compromise like starting at 3:30 p.m. ET time could work. People still are going to watch the Super Bowl on television, no matter when it's played.

The time factor also is something coaches and players aren't going to like. But they'll deal with it if they have to. The Saints and Chargers spent the whole week there last season and that gave everyone plenty of time to adjust their body clocks.

Paul Kuharsky: I'm picturing Bill Belichick muttering to himself while mapping out an itinerary with an overseas flight and an odd kickoff time. The owners may back it, but players and coaches aren't going to be fired up. (What player was it last year who asked what language they speak over there?)

I'm also wondering about the weather. According to weather.com, average February weather in London is a high of 47, a low of 36 and the month has an average rainfall of 1.34 inches. If I'm Nashville or Charlotte -- or even New York, Washington, Philadelphia or Baltimore -- I'm asking why the league's willing to play in that weather outdoors across the pond, but not at home. And I am beginning to clamor for a Super Bowl in my stadium, which was paid for, built and is regularly filled by Americans who buy the tickets and merchandise and provide the TV ratings.

Professional soccer hasn't exactly been a big hit in the United States. Can American football fly in London?

Paul Kuharsky: I don't get the sense that Europe is especially interested in American football on any sort of grand scale. While I understand the league's desire to globalize, I also know one of the reasons the NFL is our most popular league and so immensely successful is its ability to maintain an accurate and sensible sense of itself. The idea of a Super Bowl in London makes me think of soccer's failures in the U.S. Most Americans who are not soccer fans concede it's big everywhere else, but have a long list of reasons why it just doesn't work here.

Flip that list inside-out and Europe's got a handy cheat sheet for a conversation of why American football doesn't work over there. (Bring Manchester United to Giants Stadium and you'll have a sellout, sure, but it doesn't say anything big about American interest in soccer -- the same way a Super Bowl in London wouldn't speak broadly to European interest in football.) The NFL should consider that example when it tries to market an inherently American game to Europe and the rest of the world. If American football would work in Europe,
wouldn't NFL Europe have done at least well enough to survive?

Pat Yasinskas: Paul, I understand your argument. Heck, I shared the same view until my trip to London, but that experience made me see things much differently. Londoners are ready to embrace something like this. NFL Europe didn't work because it was a minor league. One thing I learned last year is that people in London are fascinated with America and want desperately to be a part of it. I was there a few weeks before the presidential election and the British were paying far more attention to that than I was. They're different from us.

I wouldn't go to a soccer game if you paid me and, to date, have successfully avoided watching my niece and nephew play a sport that bores me -- although I've been to dozens of their baseball and softball games. But the people in London have this raging curiosity about all things American. True, they may not understand the intricacies of a 3-4 defense, but they're going to come out for a show. And when it comes right down to it, isn't the Super Bowl just one big show?

Will we really see a Super Bowl in London?

Pat Yasinskas: Yes. I know some of the reports have said it's possible as early as 2014. I don't see it happening that quickly because there are too many logistical issues to be worked out. But I do think the game will be played in London sometime around 2020. Commissioner Roger Goodell has been trying to figure out the European market since he took the job. The regular-season games have gone over well and shown there's room for growth. The NFL's not going to ignore that opportunity. At some point, there will be a Super Bowl on foreign soil and London is the logical choice.

Paul Kuharsky: It's probably inevitable, Pat, but I agree that 2014 is a little ambitious. Let's see the league master the regular-season overseas games and let's give the game more time to percolate over there. And most important -- and this is what the league is already doing by sparking conversations just like this one -- let's get American football fans used to, and more accepting of, the idea that the Super Bowl's going to be an export.

In the meantime, with the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney already having done it, let's ponder who's in line for a halftime show.

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