July 31, 1998
The NFL preseason schedule of 64 games, each one, say NFL coaches, a key component in preparing for the regular season.
"Preseason games give you a chance to look at your younger players," says Washington Redskins head coach Norv Turner, whose team went 3-1 in preseason last year. "With free agency, if you can't develop young players, then you're not going to get better. Where you find out about these young players is in the four preseason games."
Some teams will play five preseason games, like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who meet in the traditional kickoff of the NFL playing schedule, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on August 1.
For the first time in its history, the Hall of Fame Game will be played in prime-time -- 7:00 PM ET -- and will be televised live by ABC-TV. The telecast will carry highlights of the induction ceremonies of the Hall class of `98 Paul Krause,Tommy McDonald, Anthony Muñoz, Mike Singletary and Dwight Stephenson.
Three hours later, the NFLs return to Tokyo, Japan kicks-off with the first of three American Bowls in the `98 preseason. The Green Bay Packers against the Kansas City Chiefs will actually be played on Sunday, August 2 at 11:15 AM Japan time, meaning the live telecast in the U.S. begins at 10:15 PM ET on August 1 on ESPN.
It will be the ninth American Bowl in Tokyo, the most for any city since the NFL's international series began in 1986. American football was first played in Japan as far back as the 1930s, and there are four Japanese nationals now playing in the NFL Europe League.
The Hall of Fame Game and the Tokyo American Bowl are part of an 11-game schedule of nationally televised preseason games.
The second full preseason weekend (Thursday, August 13-Monday, August 17) will feature four nationally televised games, including two more American Bowls.
On Saturday, August 15, Vancouver, British Columbia becomes the 10th city and third Canadian city (Montreal and Toronto) -- to host an American Bowl when the San Francisco 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks. The game will be televised live (8:00 PM ET) by CBS-TV, the first NFL game for the network since the 1993 season.
The 49ers-Seahawks American Bowl will feature another first the first game at B.C. Place in 15 years (1983) for Seattle quarterback Warren Moon since he threw for 363 yards for the Edmonton Eskimos in a 31-30 loss to the hometown B.C. Lions. Moon passed for 21,228 yards in his six-year Canadian Football League career.
On Monday night, August 17, an NFL record will be challenged in Mexico City, Mexico as the Dallas Cowboys take on the New England Patriots in an American Bowl (ABC-TV, 8:00 PM ET) at Azteca Stadium. Four years ago in the same stadium on August 15, 1994, the Cowboys played the Houston Oilers in front of 112,376 fans the largest crowd in NFL history.
Two of the top three crowds in NFL history have come in Mexico City. Last August 4, the Denver Broncos met the Miami Dolphins with 104,629 fans in attendance. (The 1947 College All-Star Game in Chicago drew 105,840 fans.)
On Saturday night, August 22, it will be the first of two 1998 meetings between the first two 1998 draft choices. The San Diego Chargers, led by quarterback Ryan Leaf, the second overall selection this year, will visit the Indianapolis Colts, quarterbacked by Peyton Manning, the first pick. The Chargers will make the same trip east during the regular season on October 4.