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Seahawks, Patriots in a Beijing Throwdown Next Year

Sando reports that the NFL will be staging a preseason exhibition game next year in Beijing, China, to introduce the world's largest TV market to the most popular sports league in America.

    Are you ready for some football??!!
(Jeff Widener, AP)
One of the teams selected for this exhibition event include our very own Seattle Seahawks. The other team -- a selection steeped in acute irony, considering the whole Tiananmen Square crackdown-on-democracy-demonstration fracas a few years ago -- is the New England Patriots.

China's economy is growing at a mad fast, haywire rate of 30% a year, according to NBA commissioner David Stern. Houston Rockets center Yao Ming has almost single-handedly raised the profile of basketball to his home country, which will also be hosting the 2008 summer Olympics.

Additional rationale, from outgoing commish Paul Tagliabue:

"Our own international people have been to China a number of times," Tagliabue said. "I was there last May and met with representatives of the City of Beijing, their Olympic Committee and the mayor of Beijing. We and NBC have been having those discussions. I think there's an increasing prospect that we could have a game there in August 2007, which would be the beginning of the one-year countdown to the following year's Olympics."

Fun fact: The NBA has three offices and 50 employees in China. I suspect a lot of their occupation involves merchandise licensing to the country. Just a guess.

It's our hope that China enjoys their first-ever pro football game, and will be hungry for more an hour later.