NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses with the Vince Lombardi Trophy following… (David J. Phillip / Associated…)
Reporting from Indianapolis — Are all NFL teams ready for the national spotlight?
They should be, because the league will arrange its 2012 schedule to ensure that every team will play a Thursday game. This is the first time every NFL team will play in a nationally televised game in a given season.
In his annual Super Bowl address Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL Network's Thursday night schedule will be expanded from eight to 13 games next season (not counting the Thursday night season opener), and they will run from Week 2 through Week 15. Besides the NFL Network's games, CBS, FOX and NBC will air Thanksgiving Day games.
"We think that's great for the fans," Goodell said. "We think it's great for the teams because everyone will get that prime time exposure, and we think it's great for the [NFL] Network."
Goodell explained his comments from an interview with NBC's Bob Costas about the possibility of expansion that were widely misinterpreted.
The league has no plans to expand beyond its current 32 teams to put a franchise in L.A. In the interview, Goodell had said that if the league were to expand, it would probably do so by two teams so as not to be left with an odd number of 33.
"We have not discussed expansion with the membership," Goodell said. "I don't see it on the agenda, even for this March's meeting. It's not something we're focused on as a league."
Asked if there is a sense of urgency among league owners and executives to return to the nation's second-largest market, Goodell said: "I don't characterize our efforts. I think it's important for us to make smart decisions. We would like to be back in Los Angeles if we can do it correctly."
Goodell said that with a 10-year labor agreement and TV contract extensions in place, "We have a runway of 10 years. We know what our labor situation is. We know what our television situation is. That should give us the foundation to make smart decisions and try to find a good solution in Los Angeles."
Peyton Manning update
The saga of Peyton Manning continues to loom over this Super Bowl. On Thursday evening, Manning's surgeon, Dr. Robert Watkins, released a statement saying the Colts quarterback has been cleared to resume his football career. A few hours later, Colts Owner Jim Irsay tweeted that Manning has not been cleared to return by Colts doctors.
The March 8 deadline is approaching, with the Colts owing Manning $28 million if they want to keep him. All signs point to them releasing him and using the No. 1 pick on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
Manning and the Colts released a joint statement Friday, reading: "Peyton Manning, Jim Irsay and the entire Colts family remain close and unified as we continue to work through all the options that relate to his future with the Colts.
"The present focus is on the Super Bowl and the great game that awaits."