The Great Debate
Every preseason the topic of preseason vs. regular season games surfaces.
A lot of the can't miss veterans and superstars complain that the preseason is to long. "Why can't the preseason be 2 games and the regular season 18 games"? Usually this becomes an issue because of an injury, this year it's Clinton Portis doing the crying. There have been other key injuries to help solidify Portis' beef. Chad Greenway (2006), Michael Vick (2003), Trent Green
(1999), Jason Sehorn (1998) to name a few. Portis is supposed to recover in time for the 1st game of the regular season, the others listed were season ending injuries to key players for their respective teams.
Here are some of the comments by veterans/stars that are in favor of Portis' request.
If a team has marquee players and the coaches already know what they can do, why put them in there ? Let the guys who are trying to make the team battle it out.
Preseason allows the young guys time to get used to the speed of the game and to basically get their feet wet.
NFL football is a year-round occupation that pays handsomely. Players arrive for conditioning workouts as early as February.
Training camp and preseason were designed back in the day for players who weren't in shape, to get in shape. Now they have organized NFL programs and mini-camps to help them arrive in shape already.
Today, because the job pays so well veterans stay in shape year round. They have private chefs, personal trainers, and home gyms not to mention team organized workout and nutritional regimes covering almost every minute of the off-season.
3 of the 4-preseason games are little more than a 10-play exhibition by the starters. Game 3 is the only one that matters to fans. It's when teams game plan for their opponent and the starters play at least half of the game.
By the way NFL officials don't like the name "Exhibition", They prefer "Preseason" thinking it brings more importance to the games.
So we've read some of the cons, here come the pros.
Players get injured during practice, so what ? Stop practicing ?
NFL teams have played 4 preseason games not counting special events like overseas American Bowls and the Hall of Fame games since 1978, When 2
"Exhibitions" were dropped and the regular season expanded from 14 to 16 games. The long preseason was a necessary routing for decades. Players would spend their off-seasons working other jobs to supplement their football income.
Every year this is a topic of conversation at the leagues Competition Committee meetings. 4 preseason games always wins, it gives coaches time to install offensive and defensive schemes. Also gives coaches time to look at the rookies and upgrade a few positions. As risky as it is because of potential injuries to key personnel, the coaches want the 4 games. The coaches approach thses games in a different way than a regular season game. Teams do very little game planning against their upcoming opponent they are more focused on what their respective players and teams are doing.
It doesn't do any good complaining about something that's already etched in the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players.
James Thrash owes his NFL career to garbage time. He was a no-hoper in a pair of 1997 "Exhibition" games. The undrafted rookie from Missouri Southern was #12 of 13 receivers in training camp and had zero chance of making the team. Until he returned kick-offs for touchdowns in back to back weeks. Thrash said; I just remember being lost on the depth chart, even on special teams, to run a kick-off back for a touchdown opened the coaches eyes.
8-year veteran Benji Olson, Tennessee's right guard, also wants all the snaps he can get in August with the Titans revamped O-Line. That's what's great about the preseason "Olson said". Four practice games to work out the kinks.
To the NFL owners around the league the 4-preseason games bring in a lot of money. If 2 preseason games were cut, the owners, who sell the "Exhibition" tickets at regular season prices would lose a valuable source of income. The owners know that the gate, parking, radio and T.V. revenues are not shared with the 31 other business partners. They also know that the money generated from Nationally Televised games goes right into the league-wide financial kitty with another sizeable paycheck disbursed to eveyone. Also the way the owners look at it is that if 2 games were cut and replaced with regular season games, players would demand significant salary increases to compensate for a regular season of 18 games instead of 16. Now players' salaries are divided into 17 weekly paychecks (including the bye week) that are distributed during the regular season. " Show me the Money "
Here are couple of my thoughts:
As a fan, the fact that there are only 16 regular season games is what makes the NFL regular season the most important in all of pro-sports. Would 18 games water that down ?
My real bone of contention is aimed at Roger Goodell, new NFL Commissioner.
Hopefully he'll do the right thing and reduce the cost of an "Exhibition" ticket to at least 75% of its face value; after all we're only seeing the starters maybe 25% of the time. So give us fans a break, the starters and stars take part of a game off. Why not part of the ticket price off too ? So the NFL owners would make a little less, big deal. They just signed a 3.7 BILLION DOLLAR T.V. deal. Where would the NFL be without the fans ?