NFL officially announces Bears-Bucs Oct. 23 in London

One deadline is in place now for an NFL labor deal.

If an agreement has not been reached by Aug. 1, the league will cancel its annual game in London.

The NFL officially announced this afternoon the Chicago Bears will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 23. However, in the absence of a deal by Aug. 1, at a time when most teams will be opening training camp, that game will be moved to Raymond James Stadium as it’s a home game for Tampa.

The complete NFL regular season schedule will be released at 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday on NFL Network. The league teased that with the announcement of the game in London. This marks the fifth consecutive season a regular season game will be played there. The previous four have been sellouts and the league encourages fans interested in attending to sign up for a registry when it is launched later this week on nfluk.com.

“Our past four games in London have demonstrated the tremendous passion for NFL football that exists in the UK,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release. “We hope by staging another extraordinary game at Wembley that we can continue to grow our existing fan base and attract even more new fans.”

Obviously, growing the sport internationally remains one of the top goals of Goodell and if the game were to be cancelled there because of the labor issues, that would be a PR strike against the league overseas.

<p> “Continuing London's love affair with the hugely popular stateside sport, we are proud to once again welcome two of America’s top NFL teams to the capital,” London mayor Boris Johnson said in a release. “With a growing local fan base, it is a fantastic opportunity for enthusiasts from London and beyond to experience the unique thrill of a live game in one of the most iconic sports venues around, Wembley Stadium.”

If past history is an indicator, the Bears and Bucs will likely have bye weeks scheduled for Oct. 30 in Week 8.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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