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Kosar sees NFL future overseas

By DAN COUGHLIN, UPI Sports Writer

PARMA, Ohio -- At 5 a.m. Thursday Browns' quarterback Bernie Kosar was in London. At noon he walked into the team's off-season training center near Cleveland.

Kosar, Browns owner Art Modell and other club officials had just returned on the supersonic Concorde from a two-day promotional visit to London where they hyped the NFL preseason game between the Browns and Philadelphia Eagles scheduled for Aug. 6 in Wembley Stadium.

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'Three and a half hours from Heathrow Airport to New York. Thirty-five hundred miles,' said Kosar. 'That's flying.'

Preseason games in London have paved the way for the NFL's planned expansion in Europe and Kosar believes the game has a future there.

'It was amazing how they knew me,' said Kosar. 'We ran a clinic for some kids 11 or 12 years old and they knew all about me. They knew statistics. They knew all about the Central Division. One kid even asked me why the Cincinnati Bengals didn't sign any free agents. Nobody in Cleveland ever asked me that question.'

The NFL is pondering what is described as a spring development league comprised of six teams in Europe and six in the United States.

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Pro football has advanced light years since the early 1950s when Browns' founder Arthur B. 'Mickey' McBride, who owned Yellow Cab in Cleveland, introduced what was called a 'cab' or 'taxi' squad in those days. McBride kept promising young players on the payroll by giving them jobs driving cabs until they were promoted to the regular roster.

Those 'cab' squads have long since been abolished to prevent teams from stockpiling young talent and to advance the cause of parity.

Suddenly, however, the concept is being resurrected on an international scale. Instead of a 'cab squad' league, could it be called the 'Concorde Conference?'

'I don't think you could fly a football team on the Concorde,' Kosar said. 'The plane is too cramped. There are only 100 seats, two on each side of the aisle. I can't imagine some of the big linemen fitting into those seats.

'I'll say one thing, though,' Kosar added, 'Phoenix to Paris would be one heckuva road trip.'

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