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Goodell: Positives to longer season

The Baltimore Sun

An expanded regular season would improve the overall quality of the NFL and increase interest among fans, commissioner Roger Goodell said yesterday.

The NFL discussed adding one or two games to the regular-season schedule at its owners meetings this month, but no decision was made and no change is expected for 2009. In the long term, however, Goodell said it made sense to shorten the preseason schedule in favor of more games that count in the standings.

"We think that's better content, it's higher quality," Goodell said.

Goodell spoke at a conference on the globalization of sports in London, held in conjunction with tomorrow's San Diego Chargers-New Orleans Saints game at Wembley Stadium.

Also, Goodell said that broadcasters are already seeing a drop in advertising revenue for NFL games because of the global economic crisis. He said that while the NFL is "incredibly strong" and should weather the downturn relatively unscathed, network partners are already reporting that advertisers are pulling back, both on a local and national level. Goodell did not give specific figures for the advertising drop.

Steroids: : Saints running back Deuce McAllister and defensive end Will Smith reportedly are among several players who have violated the NFL steroid policy. Fox 31 television in Denver, citing an unnamed source, said there are between six and 10 positive tests for a weight-loss diuretic. Bumetanide is the banned substance in the pills and also could be taken as a masking agent for other drugs. McAllister and Smith are facing possible four-game suspensions for the positive test. A source familiar with the situation told The Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss., that McAllister and Smith are in the appeal process and will play tomorrow against the Chargers. The only names mentioned in the TV report were the two Saints., citing two unnamed sources, reported that the number is more than 10 and might exceed 15. The NFL declined to comment. Attorney David Cornwell told the Associated Press that he has been hired to handle the appeals of a number of players who are facing possible suspensions.

Redskins: : Defensive end Jason Taylor went to a hospital to have his left calf re-examined, and coach Jim Zorn said Taylor will have a second operation on the leg next week. Taylor did not practice but still hopes to play tomorrow against the Lions. He was kicked in the calf during Washington's win over the Cardinals on Sept. 21. Blood began to pool in the leg overnight, and Taylor had to undergo an emergency operation the next morning. He missed two games, then played a limited role in the past two. Stitches were removed this week, but bleeding continued to be a problem.

Colts: : A staph infection in a bursa sac in quarterback Peyton Manning's left knee led to the surgery that kept him out of much of training camp and the preseason, the team confirmed. But team officials denied reports Manning had a highly virulent form of staph infection that is difficult to treat.

Seahawks: : Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who is rehabilitating a hyperextended right knee, will not play tomorrow, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. Backup Seneca Wallace will get his second consecutive start.

Steelers:: Running back Willie Parker unexpectedly didn't practice because of his sprained left knee and is unlikely to play tomorrow against the Giants. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes was held out of practice and will be deactivated tomorrow after Pittsburgh police stopped his car and smelled burning marijuana Thursday. He will be charged with a drug-related misdemeanor.

Giants: : Wide receiver Plaxico Burress was fined $45,000 by the NFL for verbally abusing an official and tossing a ball into the stands during last weekend's game against San Francisco.

Rams: : Running back Steven Jackson's availability for tomorrow's game at New England will be a game-time decision, coach Jim Haslett said. Jackson has a strained right thigh muscle.

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