I think I can safely say that outside of the greater-New England area of the country, we are all sick and tired of reading and hearing about Tom Brady, Roger Goodell, the New England Patriots, and Deflategate. When it’s all said and done, the NFL season will get underway, just as it always has. No, instead of worrying about a team deflating footballs–in a game they won handily anyway, the NFL needs to examine its current format for their exhibition games
I understand that our country is football-obsessed. Fans count down the days from the Super Bowl until the first preseason game kicks off. But at what cost? Does it matter that Brock Osweiler looked sharp against the Seattle Seahawks in the Denver Broncos’ 22-20 victory, when everyone under the sun knows that he won’t sniff the field during the regular season as long as Peyton Manning dares to wear the orange and blue? Every season, it seems that a key player unnecessarily is injured in a game in which he shouldn’t have been playing. Oops, there goes the fantasy football team you just built for a title run.
Does the NFL truly need four exhibition games to determine the talent they will roll out Labor Day weekend in stadiums across the country? Absolutely not. Training camp used to be to get players in shape, to help them learn a new offensive or defensive system being implemented by yet another new head coach. Those days are gone. Between OTAs, off-season study sessions, and players working out all year long, training camp can and should remain what it is: weeks of training to prepare teams for the regular season. But four games? It is nothing more than a money-grab for a money-hungry league that looks to make a dollar off of every opportunity it can.
Cut the preseason schedule down to two games. The season is long enough for players, including an extended playoff schedule, which culminates in February with the Super Bowl. Coaching staffs and scouting departments know exactly what they have on their roster. More time is spent analyzing players, their current abilities, and they projections, why risk laying out piles of bodies in games that don’t count?
Sure, injuries are a part of the game. But make it count for something. A roster has enough talent, and enough players, that by the time a player reaches the level of the NFL, teams know more about the players than the players themselves. How much money is enough for the NFL and club owners? I believe fans are split on the preseason issue. On the one hand, fans are pumped that football is back, but at the same time, they scream loud and hard when a star tailback or wide receiver goes down with a torn ACL during their two series worth of participation that week. If the NFL wants to keep the four-game layout as it currently is set up, then keep your primary group of stars and starters in street clothes. Teams know how many slots they need to fill. Let those players battle it out, and let the rest of us enjoy the starters when it actually counts.