NFL preseason? I’ll pass

The NFL preseason begins with NBC’s telecast of the Hall of Fame Game Sunday night, which means it’s time for me once again to begin my annual boycott of exhibition games.

I enjoy watching the NFL as much as the next couch-indenting dude, but only real games. These ridiculous exhibitions are usually devoid of front-line players by the second half — if not sooner — and often notable only for resulting in injuries, but nonetheless they fill our TV screens each August. It’s bad enough clubs make season-ticket holders pay for the games, but we apparently are so football-starved that many among us will watch.

I just think it’s a collossal waste of everyone’s time — from the teams to the networks — to stage these exhibitions. It’s so different from baseball’s spring training games, which don’t take place in the regular stadiums and are such laid-back affairs that pitchers run along the outfield walls during play. The NFL preseason is somehow mounted as if the games have significance — such as how NBC is touting the appearance of Terrell Owens as a new Buffalo Bill. Whether Owens catches two touchdown passes or drops five balls, what does it matter?

I say don’t play any preseason at all. Let the teams scrimmage each other to get ready. Shouldn’t a few scrimmages along with normal training camp be enough for coaches to make their personnel decisions?

I’ve never understood why college teams can start right up with no preseason but the pros can’t. Presumably, the older, more experienced NFL players would need less preparation than the college guys.

Go from four exhibitions to zero, then add a game or two to the regular season. Those games I’ll watch.

(Showing some restraint, I refrained from using images of either Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium or the album cover from Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Pictures at an Exhibition.)


  1. The flip side of adding games to the regular season is that they make each individual game count for less. One of the big advantages that football has over some other sports is that every game really matters, that adds to the drama of it. By contrast, the average baseball game really doesn’t matter at all — you win some, you lose some, you don’t even begin to be excited or dejected until a 10 game winning or losing streak comes around.

    Every time the schedule expands, football becomes more like every other sport, and loses part of what makes it so dominant in the sports market place.

    A longer schedule in a sport like football also means more risk of injuries, which in the end means you probably see less of your favorite star players, or you see more wussification of the rules to the point where the sport has a lot less action to it in order to prevent injuries.

    I’m also the rare bird who actually enjoys preseason games. I like being able to get familiar with who the reserves are on my favorite team, so when they wind up in games down the line, I recognize the numbers on their jersey, and can say “Oh yeah, that’s the guy who caught those two big touchdown in the preseason”. Plus, preseason is a good time to scout out potential fantasy pickups before the week to week grind of having to set fantasy football lineups begins.

    Having said all that, I do see the other side of it all, and I think ultimately we’re going to see exactly what Ray is talking about happen. I don’t like it, but it’s not something that’s going to make me stop being a fan or anything.

    One area where I’ll give the NFL a little credit is that when they talk about going to, say, 18 games, they are reducing the preseason schedule by 2 games. So, they at least avoid the potential pitfall of overexposure (i.e. 4 preseason games plus 18 regular season games might border on too much period for some fans to maintain the same level of week to week enthusiasm, with the preseason starting in mid-July or the Super Bowl being played in late Feburary).

  2. Ray,

    The only thing worse then watching “exhibition” games on TV is having to PAY FOR THEM on your season ticket package. What a colossal waste of money for the fan. Every year I get incensed when I receive my season ticket package, complete with 2 tickets to 2 meaningless games.

    And what working stiff can go to the exhibition games this year without taking a vacation or sick day? Let’s see….this year the first game is on a Thursday night, which almost mandates you take a vacation day because most employers will smell right through a “sick call-in.” You have to be a real Deadskin hater to blow a day on this one.

    The next game is, inexplicably, on a MONDAY Night!!! What a minute…… Not so inexplicable. We’re hosting the Jets, which is a nice sop to the NY market. It also means Rex Ryan can exhibit Mark Sanchez to a totally captivated national audience.

    I’m not going to either game, and I can’t even give the tickets away. There’s $80 X 2 tickets X2 games for a waste of $320.

    I’m sick, and it’s going to get worse.


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