Saturday, August 20, 2005

Live Or On Memorex, Preseason NFL Won't Break The Glass

Quick question for you: which is worse -- the Pro Bowl, or pre-season NFL football?

The Lions play the second of four exhibitions today against the Browns at Ford Field, and one of the newspapers actually ran a blurb in its Lions’ notebook that said, "A few thousand tickets remain for this Saturday’s Lions-Browns game. The tickets must be sold 72 hours before kickoff for the game to be broadcast live on Saturday."

Gosh, I hope they sold them! Heaven forbid we don’t see a preseason game LIVE!

I have so many problems with exhibition pro football that I hardly know where to begin. I think the first thing on my list is the ticket price -- 100% face value of a regular season game. How the NFL has been able to get away with this over the years is beyond me and surely must be one of the longest-running price gougings in capitalistic history. Full price to see a quarter and a half of starters and the rest filled with rookies and benchwarmers. But the fans still eat and drink like starters the whole game, don’t they? Maybe they can protest by spending all their money on food and drink in the first quarter, and cool it for the rest of the game. Tit for tat, right?

Next on my list is the injury factor. This isn’t spring training baseball, or even the NBA or NHL. Football is by far the most violent of team games; imagine two freight trains colliding head on and you have the typical NFL hit -- over and over again every Sunday. These guys don’t lay down because it’s preseason. So why do we need four of these snoozers? And to think that, prior to the 16-game schedule, the league played SIX exhibitions. Mama mia -- that’s a lotsa meaningless foot-a-ball! Coaches half-heartedly endorse the games, telling us that they need the football to properly evaluate their roster prior to the real deal. I think that if you can’t tell who should be on your football team after three weeks of training camp and two games, then either you’re not much of a coach, or terribly indecisive.

The players don’t like these games, either. They’d just as soon bang heads for real as quickly as possible. I bet hardly any of them would raise a peep if the preseason was reduced to two games. Of course, that raises the spector of an 18-game schedule, which might be a fun thing to think about. Two more "real" games would give fans a chance to see their teams play different squads more often when it counts. The Lions, for example, hardly ever play the Raiders, to name you one team. But to me, Lions-Raiders in August just doesn’t cut it. Place that game in October, though, and now it gets interesting to see the Lions go against the Silver and Black.

Maybe the rookies or guys on the bubble would be against a two-game preseason, but again, if you haven’t proven your worth by that point, then maybe it’s time to look for a career outside of football. And the veterans don’t need much more than a couple games to get into the swing of things. Besides, with a two-game preseason, the starters should theoretically play more per game, which brings me back to my original rant of charging full boat for a canoe’s worth of starting football players.

So watch the Lions-Browns today -- live or on tape delay -- and enjoy your 20 football minutes of stars before the understudies take over. If you get through it, remember: you’re halfway to the regular season!

Maybe the NFL Network is showing a replay of last year’s Pro Bowl sometime soon.

1 comment:

dolphinfan said...

I actually like pre-season football. I guess mostly because I'm a huge college football fan and I like to follow players as they try to make a team.