NFL Europe season still a go, for now

With the beginning of the war in Iraq, the future of the upcoming NFL Europe season is unclear. However, a day before fighting began the NFL clarified its standing.

"We are monitoring developments, but at this point there has been no change in our plans to go forward with the NFL Europe season as scheduled," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

The status of the NFL Europe season in light of the impending war will be discussed at the NFL's annual meeting that starts March 23 in Phoenix. There has been speculation that one of the alternatives is to play part or all of the NFL Europe season in Florida, but the NFL has declined to comment on those reports.

The league's six teams have been training in Florida for the past three weeks and are scheduled to leave for Europe March 25 and 26. The NFL Europe League's 11th season kicks off April 5.

The Bears allocated an NFL-leading 13 players to participate in the upcoming NFL Europe season.

Three of Chicago's allocated players finished the season on the team's active roster with quarterback Henry Burris leading a group which includes defensive back Travis Coleman and center Josh Warner who is making his second trip to NFL Europe as a member of the Bears.

Burris made his NFL debut with Chicago in 2002, playing six games including a start in the season-finale.

Coleman participated in the final seven games of the season as a backup defensive back.

Warner spent most of his time on Chicago's practice squad in 2002 but ended the season as a gameday inactive for the final two contests.

All three players will suit-up for the two-time defending NFL Europe champion Berlin Thunder along with four other players from Chicago's reserve list: tight end Bryan Fletcher, wide receiver Elijah Thurmon, defensive end Roshaun Mathews and defensive tackle Curry Dawson.

The Thunder offense may take on a decidedly Chicago feel with Burris potentially taking snaps from Warner and throwing passes to second-year players Fletcher and Thurmon. On the defensive side, Matthews was the 2001 NFL Europe MVP and sack leader and is looking to re-establish himself as a dominant pass rusher after spending the entire 2002 season rehabbing a leg injury.

Wide receiver Edell Shepherd, running back Maurice Hicks and offensive lineman Jeff Grzeskowiak have been assigned to the Scottish Claymores. All three spent time on Chicago's reserve roster in 2002 with Shepherd and Grzeskowiak participating on the Bears practice squad while Hicks rehabbed a knee injury.

Guard Shane Grice and fullback Tyree Foreman have been assigned to the Barcelona Dragons while cornerback Teddy Gaines joins the Rhein Fire.

NFL Europe League Week 1 schedule

Saturday April 5
Amsterdam Admirals at Rhein Fire
F.C Barcelona Dragons at Frankfurt Galaxy

Sunday April 6
Berlin Thunder at Scottish Claymores

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