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NFL mulls opening MNF on ESPN with doubleheader

NEW YORK -- The NFL is considering an ESPN doubleheader for the opening
Monday night game of the 2006 season, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday.

The doubleheader would take place on Sept. 11, with one game beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern time and
the second at 9 p.m., Aiello said.

The proposed Monday night doubleheader would provide ESPN with a
17th game -- the league most likely is to go again without a game
the final Monday night of the season.

The 2006 NFL season most likely will start in
Pittsburgh on Sept. 7, keeping with a recent trend of beginning the
schedule with the current Super Bowl champion.

The new schedule will be disclosed in April, although some
games, such as the opener, may be announced earlier.

The league also is still open to a game overseas for 2006,
perhaps in London's Wembley Stadium, Aiello said.

The Sept. 7 game will be the fifth straight Thursday opener. The
first was in 2002 when San Francisco was at the New York Giants, in
part to commemorate the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The
following season, the New York Jets were at Washington in the game
in what was also considered a game honoring the two cities hit by
the attacks.

But the last two openers have been at New England, the Super
Bowl champion. The first was against Indianapolis and last season's
opener was against Oakland.

NBC, which takes over from ABC as the network for night games,
will televise the game in Pittsburgh.

Thursday and Saturday nights
are now unavailable to ESPN because the NFL Network has picked up
eight late-season games on those nights, beginning with
Thanksgiving night.

As for the London game, Aiello said it remained under
consideration. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said at the Super Bowl
it was unlikely the NFL would play a regular-season game outside
the United States this season. The first one took place last season
with San Francisco playing Arizona in Mexico City.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.