Every year, before the regular season of the NFL begins, the great debate regarding the purpose of preseason games comes up. This off-season, I didn’t hear too much about this ongoing argument until Washington Redskins
running back Clinton Portis
went down with a separated shoulder Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals
on the ‘Skins’ first offensive series. Reports out of Redskins camp, is that Portis will miss the rest of the preseason and possibly the first couple of games of the regular season. Now, I can’t watch television or listen to the radio without hearing the “experts” debate about what the NFL should do about preseason games. The biggest concern seems to be the serious injuries that occur to star players, preventing them from contributing to their teams when the games count. Some would like to see the league get rid of preseason games all-together, while others would rather see a shorter preseason with more regular season games. Many NFL players are against it as well for fear that they will get injured before the games start to count. There are two sides to a coin and good points can be made for those against the NFL preseason and those who are for it.
A Quick Fix
You’ve been miserable every since the Super Bowl ended, trying to figure out what you can do to occupy yourself during the NFL off-season. Sure, there’s the Pro-Bowl and the NFL rookie draft in April, but who wants to sit thru that boring crap. Preseason is the ‘fix’ that every football fanatic needs to get ready for the real games. You have the opportunity to check out the new players on your team and the guys who may be possible reserve players. For fantasy football owners, the preseason gives you the chance to scope out ‘sleepers’ for your team.
Let the Kids Play
Preseason games are primarily for those who are trying to make the team. You just can’t expect a rookie player to learn all he needs to know from practice and be ready to play in the regular season. That’s similar to driving up on a deer in the middle of the night with your high beams on; he’s going to freak out. Rookies need game time experience. The transition from college to the NFL is drastic due to the speed of the game, so I’ve heard. Coaches are also looking for standout players that can fill in for a starter when needed and not miss a beat. The special teams unit is usually formed in the preseason as well.
You need More Than Just Practice to be perfect
Your team just hired a new offensive or defensive coordinator and the guy installs a new playbook that is more complicated to read than the encyclopedia that collects dust on your book case. I know what you are about to say, “That’s what practice is for”. However, practice is like shadow boxing. Sure you look nice punching the air and dancing around like Ali, but as soon as you are in a real fight, you become the punching bag and realize that you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. Practice against an opponent other than your teammates is important because you get the chance to go against a team that may show different styles and formations.
Every team adds a few star players to the unit during the off-season. Preseason games give the new player(s) a chance to gel with the entire unit. Although the starters complain about the preseason being a waste of time and a high risk for injury, they only play for a few snaps and then off to the bench they go. The few that they are in the game is a chance to get all eleven players on the same page.
The Injury Bug
The biggest and most popular negative about NFL preseason games is the risk of injuries to one of your team’s star players. Most people against preseason games will say, “The games don’t mean anything and there is no need for a team to put their star players at risk of missing a substantial amount of real games or worse, the entire season”. There is nothing worse than watching a player go down in preseason, but what is the difference of a player getting hurt in preseason and getting hurt in the first game of the season? Injuries are a part of life and certainly won’t stop happening because there are no preseason games.
Boring, Boring, and Boring
Although the preseason can be a “fix” while you wait for the real season to begin, the games can be very boring. Personally, I watch the games until the starters are happily laughing and joking amongst each other on the bench. Once the back-ups start to come in the game, I lose all interest. However, imagine being one of those back-up players, fighting so hard to make a roster spot? It’s got to be done. The game may be boring while the reserves play, but these will be the players that you will have to depend on if a star player goes down.
Big Rip Off For Season Ticket Holders
I barely watch an entire preseason game, why would I pay for one? NFL season ticket holders really don’t have a choice. The season ticket package includes the two home preseason games that each NFL team plays. It’s just another way for the greedy owners to boost their revenue. The least they can do is sell hot dogs and beer for a $1 at the preseason games.
There isn’t a good solution.
Personally, I don’t see the NFL changing this rule anytime soon. If they decided to do so, what would be the smartest choice? Eliminating the preseason completely is not a good idea, because it eliminates the chances of the next John Elway making the team. Some have suggested that the preseason be reduced to 2 games and have 18 regular season games. I would really like that option, because my team would have 2 extra chances of making the playoffs. However, two extra games during the season would mean more injuries. No matter how you look at it, injuries just can’t be avoided. The only thing we can do is sit back and enjoy the meaningless games as are team gels together and cross are fingers when the starters are out on the field.