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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs expected to play regular season game in London in 2011 vs. Bears



Here's how far the Bucs are willing to go to sell out a home game: more than 4,400 miles to London.

For the second time in three years, Tampa Bay is expected to move a regular-season game from Raymond James Stadium to Wembley Stadium.

While the league would only confirm Tuesday that Tampa Bay is among the teams being considered to play a regular-season game in London in 2011, the Bucs are expected to 'host' the Chicago Bears there when the NFL releases its regular-season schedule later this month.

Not that the Bucs had much luck across the pond. The Bucs lost 35-7 to the New England Patriots in London in 2009 in Raheem Morris' first season as head coach on their way to a 3-13 record.

Bucs spokesman Jonathan Grella referred all questions about the possibility of the Bucs playing in London to the NFL office.

"There are many teams under consideration to play in London in 2011,'' said Mike Signora, the NFL's vice president of football operations. "We look forward to an announcement in the days ahead.''

The Chicago Tribune also confirmed that the Bucs would play the Bears in London in the fall. 

It's not surprising that the Glazer family which owns the Bucs would be receptive to moving a regular season game from Tampa to London. In addition to owning the Manchester United soccer club in England, Tampa Bay was the only team to have all 10 home games blacked out last season.

While season ticket sales were crisp in January and February, the NFL labor situation and the lackluster economy in Tampa Bay prompted the Glazers to be receptive to moving another game to London. It's also an opportunity for the Bucs to market their young stars like quarterback Josh Freeman, receiver Mike Williams and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to a national and international audience.

"I have no problem with that,'' said Bucs backup quarterback Josh Johnson, who made his fourth start in London two years ago. "If they fixed the playing field, it would be something nice. But the field was unsafe. It's a soccer field and players were slipping all over the place. Of course, I'd much rather play the game in Tampa but I guess it is what it is.''  

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 7:26pm]


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