I’m the biggest NFL rube as anyone else who loves to spend 10 hours in front of a television on a Sunday, but I’m starting to wonder if playing ‘football’ games in August are a very good idea.
All teams play four preseason games, with the exception of Arizona and New Orleans this year who play five because they played in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH. Including the preseason that brings the season total to 20 games. That doesn’t count any of the twelve teams that make the playoffs; those teams could play up to four more games.
We’ve seen countless injuries already this preseason and we’re only through two of the four weeks. Several players including Shaun Rogers of the Giants and Desmond Bishop of the Packers were hurt during games and are likely out for the season. Vikings rookie receiver Greg Childs tore patella tendons in both knees during a scrimmage and his career might be over with. There are countless other injuries that may prevent some players from starting regular season openers for their teams or might make them miss a significant portion of the season.
Another factor that goes into the preseason is fan attendance. Just by flipping through the channels and seeing stadiums half full (or half empty, it’s your call) makes me wonder if the fans actually care about the preseason. I was excited to watch the Packers first preseason game, but after the first team offense was off the field, I was done. I’m sure it’s even less exciting when fans go to the game, pay full price for a ticket that doesn’t even guarantee you’ll see your favorite player play, pay for parking, pay for food and other things at the game.
Let’s use the four preseason games as an example. In game number one, the regular season starters might see action on two drives and then they’re out. In game number two, they’ll see up to a quarter of action. In game three, they could see up to a half of action and in game number four, chances are the starters won’t play and guys fighting for jobs will be. In reality, most veteran starters are combining barely to play in one game in four total games.
I was invited to go to the Vikings/Bills game last Friday night by a friend. I’m not a Viking fan, but if it were a regular season game, I’d have gone in a heart beat. As a Packers fan, nothing is more fun than cheering against the Minnesota Vikings. I thought about it for a minute… I would have to pay to go, pay $9.00 for a beer and $5.00 for a hot dog and probably leave at halftime. I had better things to do with my Friday night, like laundry or watch my dog eat his poop.
Roger Goodell, what can you do to make the preseason safer for the players and more attractive to the fans? I’ll tell you what you can do; first you need to eliminate two preseason games. It’s just the way it is. You have to, Rog. I can only take watching Graham Harrell quarterback the Packers for so long, if at all. Each team will play one home game and one road game. It’s up to the coaches to determine how long you’ll have your starters play. If it were me, in the first preseason game I would keep my starters in for the first half and in game number two I would keep them in for one quarter. Sure, this isn’t going to eliminate every injury, but it will cut down on them.
The next thing that needs to be done is replace those two eliminated preseason games with a semi-neutral site scrimmages. Having these games at college stadiums would be ideal. These scrimmages would feature two half’s with a 60 minute running clock in each half. The rules for the scrimmage would essentially be a combination of the pro bowl rules and flag football, to reduce injuries. Injuries are a part of the game, regardless if its practice, a scrimmage or a game. Finally, these scrimmages are free to the public. No one wants to pay $75 to go to a preseason game and get 75% less action then a regular season game. That’s half the problem with the preseason from the fan’s aspect is the price, the other problem is the quality of game. If they don’t pay to go watch these guys play more fans would have a fun time.
To sum it up, my 2012 NFL Preseason would look a little bit like this:
Late July: Training Camp Opens.
August 5th: Hall of Fame Game, Saints vs. Cardinals from Canton, Ohio.
August 9th-12th: Preseason Scrimmage #1.
August 16th-19th: Preseason Game #1.
August 20th: Roster cutdown to 75 players.
August 23rd-26th: Preseason Scrimmage #2.
August 30th-September 2nd: Preseason Game #2.
September 3rd: Roster cutdown to 53 players.
The NFL is a billion dollar company. If they think that losing two preseason games will put them in the red, then they are absolutely wrong. The league is being scrutinized for player safety. By doing something like this not only would they take a step in the right direction for the NFL Alumni, coaches and current players, but they would have a huge outpouring of fan support, including myself. If it means two less games that we watch Graham Harrell, then lets get this done.
You can follow me on Twitter at @TheAce18 or email me at TheAceTJR@Gmail.com. I love hearing from people and I would love your opinions.