Eagles to play in NFL's first game in Brazil to kick off '24

February 5, 2024, 7:49 PM

LAS VEGAS -- The Philadelphia Eagles will play host to the NFL's first regular-season game in Brazil, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Monday in his state of the NFL media conference at Allegiant Stadium.

The Eagles, who last played an international game in 2018, will face a to-be-announced opponent in São Paolo on Friday, Sept. 6, the day after the NFL season kicks off on Thursday night. This will be the NFL's first Friday game on opening weekend in more than 50 years.

"We are just incredibly enthusiastic about our growth on a global basis," Goodell said. "We are convinced we can be a global sport in the near future. Our ownership has committed to allow more games to be played on an annual basis, on a global basis. We are excited about the fans' reaction and our media partners. I think this is a great opportunity for the league and we are committed to making it a global sport."

The Eagles' home opponents for the 2024 season are the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Commanders, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Brazil is new for us this year," Goodell added. "We think this is giving us the ability to access more fans. Not just here in the States, but on a global basis. And I think it's going to be a huge hit. We're excited."

Per NFL.com, the league counts 38 million fans in Brazil with an "increased" interest in recent years when it comes to the playoffs and the Super Bowl. The league's website also noted 49,000-seat Corinthians Arena, which played host to World Cup matches in 2014 as well as Olympic soccer matches in 2016, as the likely site of the game.

The NFL already plays international games in England and Germany and could be targeting Spain in 2025 as owners passed a resolution in the fall compelling each team to play an international game once every four years.

Goodell's gambling stance

Another theme of Goodell's 52-plus minute presser was the irony of his strong stance against legalized gambling in 2012 with the Super Bowl now being played in Las Vegas.

"Protecting the integrity of the game, making sure that our fans understand that what they see out there does not have any undue influence [is key]," Goodell said.

"We did not make the decision. Ultimately, the decision was a decision by the Supreme Court -- they legalized sports betting. We have to adapt. We have to embrace it. We have been cautious. We have been very thoughtful, I think, in our approach. But we know the risk and protecting the integrity is No. 1."

Goodell said about 25 league employees had violated the league's gambling policy, while "roughly 13 players" have faced discipline.

"If [you're] betting on the NFL, you're terminated automatically," he said. "That's it."

Belichick 'done so much for the league'

For the first time since 1974, Bill Belichick is not employed by an NFL team. Goodell was asked his thoughts on a Belichick-less league.

"You know, that guy is one of the great coaches in our history," Goodell said. "He's extraordinary. And what he's accomplished, he's amazing to me."

Goodell said he had spoken with Belichick since the season ended for the  New England Patriots.

"He's done so much for this league," Goodell said. "He's changed the game, in many ways. He's brought innovation and I don't think anyone can take anything away from his record, whether he's coaching or not. I think he'll be missed, but I have a feeling that he'll still be around the game somehow."

In 2007, Goodell fined Belichick $500,000 for his role in the Patriots' "Spygate" scandal.

Streaming TV future?

Many fans were upset when the AFC wild card game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins was streamed on Peacock.

And while Goodell would not say streaming was the wave of the future -- he did say a streamed Super Bowl was not going to happen on his watch -- it is a reality and part of the NFL's future.

"Consumers are moving off paid television," he said. "We have to be able to reach fans there...we have to fish where the fish are. And we have a lot of consumers on those platforms."

Goodell said 90% of the NFL's games were still on "free TV" but the average age of the audience dropped by almost 10 years for the Peacock broadcast, which, he added, outdrew the same broadcast in the same window a year earlier.

Goodell on Swift conspiracy: 'Nonsense'

Yes, Goodell has heard the conspiracy theories when it comes to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and pop star Taylor Swift, whose romance has taken on a life of its own this season. He scoffs at such stories.

"Listen, I think anybody in this society, when they're in a public position, are going to be subject to criticism," Goodell said. "The idea that this was in a script, or this was pre-planned, it's nonsense. It's, frankly, not even worth talking about.

"We see two people that are really happy together, having fun together, I think that's wonderful, and I wish them well. They're both wonderful people. The fact that they're both involved with football in some fashion, through their relationship, that's great. We welcome that."