The most powerful man in American sports is coming to the Indianapolis Colts’ training camp next month. And he’s bringing one of the NFL’s most popular personalities along with him.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed via Twitter on Saturday afternoon that the Colts will be among seven teams featured on a training camp tour by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Hall of Fame coach and former broadcaster John Madden.
“What a tribute to the city of Anderson, to Anderson University and to the Colts,” city councilman Art Pepelea said. [Photo on left: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.]
Goodell and Madden will be riding the latter’s luxury bus, dubbed the Madden Cruiser, over a period of six days in August.
Goodell’s tour actually is slated to begin July 29 at the Green Bay Packers’ annual shareholders’ meeting. He’ll then head to Louisiana on Aug. 2 for a visit with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
Madden joins the tour Aug. 3 with a trip to the Philadelphia Eagles’ training camp. The pair will then visit the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins on Aug. 4 and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns on Aug. 5.
The bus will then make a detour to Canton, Ohio, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities Aug. 6.
The next day Goodell and Madden are slated to visit AU and the Indianapolis Colts before returning to Canton for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony later that evening.
AU vice president of finance Sena Landey said she could not confirm Goodell’s visit, but she had heard rumors it was possible.
“If it were to happen, it would be a great honor,” Landey said. “We’d look forward to hosting him just as we do all of our fans.”
The Colts made no public response to Aiello’s Twitter post Saturday.
The commissioner’s schedule is tentative, but the plan likely is to include a stop in Anderson unless unforeseen complications arise.
Goodell hopes to speak with players, staff and fans at each stop.
Some have suggested the tour is an attempt to rally support as the league digs in for a battle with the players’ union over a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). [Photo on right: Hall of Fame coach and former broadcaster John Madden.]
The current CBA expires after next spring’s amateur draft, and there is fear a resulting work stoppage could wipe out part or all of the 2011 season. That could have direct ramifications for Indianapolis, which is scheduled to host Super Bowl XLVI at the end of that campaign.
Other recent topics of interest include the new overtime format to be used only in postseason games and the league’s ongoing interest in an “enhanced” 18-game regular season.
“Roger is really looking forward to visiting with fans, players, coaches and team staff,” Aiello told NFL.com. “He wants to know what’s up and how we can improve.”
It seems certain he’ll find plenty of fans to interact with in Anderson.
Part of the rationale for moving the Colts’ camp back to the city was that much of the team’s fan base is located along the I-69 corridor.
“Our objective is to capture the next generation of fans,” Colts President Bill Polian said at AU while announcing the move June 3.
A visit from Goodell and Madden only will further that objective, and Pepelea believes even better days are ahead.
“We’re going to expect even larger crowds than they ever had in Terre Haute,” he said. “This is one of many great things that will happen now that the Colts are here.”
—George Bremer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.