Monday, April 18, 2011
Bears, Bucs to square off in London
LONDON -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Chicago Bears at London's Wembley Stadium in October if the NFL season isn't altered by a labor dispute.
The league said Monday that the Bucs will return to the British capital for the second time in three years, having lost to the New England Patriots at Wembley in 2009. For the Bears, the game on Oct. 23 will mark the 25th anniversary of having played a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at the stadium.
"To return to London to play an NFL game -- this is going to be fun," Bears chairman Michael McCaskey said in a statement. "I remember how enthusiastic the fans were in 1986 when we played in Wembley Stadium and defeated the Dallas Cowboys. London fans were so welcoming and blended their traditions of singing soccer songs with the NFL-style of presenting games."
Bears head coach Lovie Smith added: "Playing abroad will be a unique experience for our players and we embrace the opportunity to serve as ambassadors for our game. It should be an excellent matchup with two teams coming off double-digit win seasons. We know Bears fans follow us from all over the world and we look forward to playing in front of many of them in London."
It is the fifth year in a row that the NFL stages a regular-season game in London.
"Our past four games in London have demonstrated the tremendous passion for NFL football that exists in the UK," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "We hope by staging another extraordinary game at Wembley that we can continue to grow our existing fan base and attract even more new fans."
The league and its locked-out players, however, have yet to reach a deal on a new labor agreement, meaning the 2011 season could be in jeopardy.
The NFL said that if the the current labor situation is not resolved by Aug. 1, the game will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.