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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Are 4 NFL exhibition games too many?

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Wednesday, Sep. 05 2007

    Decades ago, long before the days when television money turned the National
    Football League into a billion-dollar business, players spent the offseason
    working in banks or selling insurance to supplement their still-modest football
    incomes. They showed up in training camp to get in shape for football.

    Those days are long gone. Salaries have escalated to the point where the
    minimum wage for even an undrafted rookie is $285,000, more than probably some
    bank presidents and insurance executives make. Players are expected to be in
    shape when they report to training camp, and those who aren't quickly can get
    left behind.

    These days, there's no excuse for players to be out of shape. Not with
    offseason conditioning programs starting in late March, minicamps in the
    spring, and those "light" practices in May and June known as OTAs short for
    organized team activities.

    In the tradition-bound NFL, in which change occurs at a glacier-like pace,
    training camp and the preseason have changed little over the last 30 years.
    Around the league, at least some teams are cutting back on the number of
    two-a-day practice sessions. But the exhibition schedule remains the same as it
    has been since 1978 four games.

    For veteran players, four games in August are way too much.

    "Two, I think, is more than enough," said wide receiver-kick returner Dante
    Hall, an eight-year NFL veteran. "A couple of weeks of training camp. Two
    preseason games. And let's get it on."

    After all the work in the spring, it doesn't take long for the regulars to get
    in game shape once training camp starts.

    Take it from running back Steven Jackson.

    "Guys have been in 'game' mode for quite some time around here," Jackson said.

    Jackson made those comments a week ago.

    So who exactly benefits from four exhibition games?

    "As a young guy, if you're trying to make a team I was a benefactor of that
    early in my career," Hall said. "I needed all four games. That's how I was able
    to make the team (in Kansas City) early in my career. But once you've
    established yourself, and you know what it takes to get through a season,
    (preseason) really just wears you out."

    For those players who aren't established, the preseason can be a tension-filled
    proving ground, particularly if they suffer an injury early in camp. Such was
    the case with linebacker Tim McGarigle, who spent his rookie season (2006) on
    the Rams' practice squad and then missed the first three exhibition games of
    this preseason because of a hamstring injury.

    "Fortunately, it healed in time to show this coaching staff what I can do,"
    McGarigle said. "And I think that's the reason I'm here. In two games, I don't
    think I would've been able to go out there with my hamstring and make this
    team. I'm in favor of those four games, obviously."

    But for those who aren't young players or fringe players, the preseason has
    become increasingly irrelevant. It is becoming more common for star players,
    such as San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and the Rams' Jackson, to sit out most
    or all of the exhibition season.

    It has become common practice to give starters extended playing time only in
    the second and third exhibition games. None of the Rams' projected 22 starters
    on offense and defense even played in the preseason finale Thursday against
    Kansas City.

    Coach Scott Linehan, not one to rock the boat, gave a diplomatic answer when
    asked if four exhibition games are necessary.

    "I think they are," he said. "I don't know what the magic number is. We plan
    for them, so they're a big part of what we're doing as far as our evaluation.
    ... If you were to change the amount of games, you're going to probably affect
    what you do in practice."

    But if the league decided on just two exhibition games, would Linehan be all
    right with that?

    "I'd do whatever the league tells me," he said, laughing. "They're my boss. I
    think you would create other ways for competitive performance situations,
    though, and scrimmages are fine."

    Fans, of course, pay full price for exhibition games, and those contests are
    part of season-ticket packages. The owners may enjoy the extra money, but fans
    usually stay away in droves. There were perhaps as many as 20,000 empty seats
    in the Edward Jones Dome for both the San Diego and Kansas City games in August.

    One solution, of course, would be to drop two exhibition games and add two
    regular-season contests. The network television money gained by adding two
    regular-season games to the schedule would dwarf any money the owners received
    for charging regular-season prices for practice games. And the resulting salary
    cap increase would mean more money for players.

    "That would be fine," Hall said. "Make them count, at least, instead of going
    out there and wearing yourself down for games that have no significance. If
    you're going to play 20 games, make 18 of them count."


  2. #2
    RAMFANRAIDERHATER's Avatar
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    Re: Are 4 NFL exhibition games too many?

    Until recently, I would have said "yes", that 4 games IS too many.

    But I may be softening my position on this a bit.

    Recently, head coaches in the NFL are implementing new approaches to the preseason, such as what we're seeing with Jackson and LT. They're wiseing up to the fact that the seasoned veterans no longer need four games to hone their skills & timing. They're using most of the preseason to get newbies into the fold, and find out what they've got. With each passing season, I seem to notice a trend of playing starters and stars much less than in previous seasons. It's a good trend, if they intend to keep a 4-game preseason schedule.

    ...and four games is a pretty good number to get your draftees and FA's ready and properly evaluated. As is proven out each year, the scores of the games are totally meaningless because the preseason has simply become an evaluation tool, and is no longer used to get into playing shape. Realistically, anytime these guys take the field, it could be their last. Serious injuries can happen in the forth preseason game or the first, or as is often the case, in practice. So, keep the games to 4, and continue to reduce the playing time of starters and key players.

    But stop charging FULL PRICE to see a damn practice game!
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

  3. #3
    JackieSlater's Avatar
    JackieSlater is offline Registered User
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    Re: Are 4 NFL exhibition games too many?

    The classic question from time to time everyone gets asked is..

    'What 1 change would you bring into the game/NFL'?

    For as long as i can remember i've tried to promote the working out of .

    2 pre season games/weeks
    Regular season 18 games/weeks.

    That would take some MAJOR changes, but think of the skill and game management involved to play an 18 game regular season?

  4. #4
    renrawtruk is offline Registered User
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    Re: Are 4 NFL exhibition games too many?

    I recall my dad telling me that they used to have 6 or 7 pre-season games back in the day. Can anyone confirm this?

  5. #5
    mpire Guest

    Re: Are 4 NFL exhibition games too many?

    Without NFL Europa there's going to be fewer developmental opportunities for players trying to make a name for themselves.
    4 games seems right, but sit the vets.

  6. #6
    RAMFANRAIDERHATER's Avatar
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    Re: Are 4 NFL exhibition games too many?

    Quote Originally Posted by renrawtruk View Post
    I recall my dad telling me that they used to have 6 or 7 pre-season games back in the day. Can anyone confirm this?

    1976 the schedule included 6 pre-season games and 14 regular games.
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

  7. #7
    helorm341 Guest

    Re: Are 4 NFL exhibition games too many?

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
    1976 the schedule included 6 pre-season games and 14 regular games.
    Wow, even being a rabid football fan, I would get bored with six preseason games. I can't imagine waiting another three weeks for football to start from this point.

    Coaches like the four preseason games as it helps to evaluate your rookies and on the bubble players. As a fan, four preseason game is about two games too many.

  8. #8
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Are 4 NFL exhibition games too many?

    At least drop it to 3 preseason games. The last preseason game is a joke.

  9. #9
    ramsbruce's Avatar
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    Re: Are 4 NFL exhibition games too many?

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    At least drop it to 3 preseason games. The last preseason game is a joke.
    It wasn't a joke to Culberson and McGarigle.
    Quote Originally Posted by ramsbruce
    Kudos to Jared Cook for saying what needed to be said about being outplayed and outcoached vs the Cards.

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