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Tagliabue Discusses State Of the NFL

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Friday the league is looking to start a new network to televise games, and also hopes to have a team in Los Angeles by the end of the decade.

In his annual Super Bowl week news conference, Tagliabue also said the NFL is considering regular-season games outside the United States and holding preseason games in China leading up to the 2008 Olympics.

"We're giving very serious consideration to launching another major sports network on satellite or cable TV," Tagliabue said, without elaborating.

In November, the league extended its television contracts with Fox and CBS, but negotiations with ABC-ESPN (both owned by Disney) have bogged down over the issue of siphoning off games to fill new slots on Thursday and Saturday nights. Apparently, those games could be part of the proposed new network.

The NFL is desperate to get back into Los Angeles, which lost two NFL teams--the Rams and Raiders--after the 1995 season. The league is holding discussions with four sites, including Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Bowl, about the possibility of building a new stadium.

"I want to get it done this decade," said Tagliabue, adding that he wasn't especially concerned whether it was 2008 or '09. "We want a team that stays there and will be successful for 50 to 100 years. That's the timeline that matters to me."

The league has played preseason games outside the United States, and Tagliabue said the idea of holding regular-season games in other countries is under consideration. Toronto and Mexico City are the prime candidates--perhaps as early as next season.

Tagliabue will travel to China in May to discuss having two preseason games there, likely tying in with the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The commissioner touched on minority hiring by saying the league would concentrate on increasing its pool of qualified candidates for front-office posts. For the time being, teams won't be required to interview minorities for those jobs as they are for head coaching positions.

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