One of the most hated seasons is officially halfway over. No, I’m not talking about baseball season. I am talking about preseason football. It never fails that fans complain every year about the preseason and its length. Some want it to be shorter than what it is currently. And who can blame the fans there. But while there are some negatives that come with the preseason, there are also several positives.
The doom and gloom of the preseason has always been injuries. And this year, it seems like more players have suffered season-ending injuries at a higher rate. But unfortunately, injuries are a part of any sport. The latest season-ending injury happened to Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller this weekend:
The NFL and its teams have tried to limit these situations from happening by lessening the amount of time on the field and sitting out some players during preseason games, but injuries are not always unavoidable. Even if fans got what they wanted and we had less preseason games, injuries would still happen. There is no avoiding them.
Sloppy play is also a preseason staple. You tend to see more guys missing tackles, jumping offsides and holding in the preseason than in the regular season games, especially in the second half. This can become unwatchable at times and it can ruin the flow of the game. Unfortunately, this is another necessary evil of preseason football. Sometimes there are a ton of new players on the field trying to learn an offense and play at the same time. That, combined with the rust of veteran players on the field, can produce these eyesores. But the good thing is it does not last the whole preseason. The backups play less and less as the preseason goes forward.
Another negative of the preseason is fans have to pay full price for the games. Honestly, no one wants to pay the full price. None of the players you want to see will be playing the whole game, the intensity is down and the game is sloppy. But for season-ticket buyers, you have to purchase those tickets in order to get the whole season’s worth of games. If the NFL wanted to make fans feel better about these games, they would discount the ticket prices due to the circumstances the game is played under. But the NFL is a business and fans continue to sacrifice these games for the right to see all home games, so I don’t see this changing anytime soon.
But with the negatives, there are always some positives that come out of the preseason. With some of the starters sitting out of preseason games, it allows a team to get some players playing time that may not play if the starter was there. Teams that have championship aspirations always need depth just in case an injury is sustained. And with all the preseason games, an extended look at a guy that may not have otherwise been seen could be that missing piece the team needs to make that championship run. Preseason games also allow players to get in the rhythm of what the team wants them to do.
Another positive that can happen is competitions have time to play out. Last year, Russell Wilson was a third-round draft pick of the Seahawks that was expected to be the backup to newly acquired Matt Flynn. Russell had other ideas though. He prepared well in practices and took advantage of his opportunities when given by head coach Pete Carroll. And the Seahawks head coach had plenty of opportunities to put Wilson in situations to test him due to the amount of preseason games. Wilson eventually was named the starting quarterback in Seattle and helped lead them to the playoffs while he had an unexpectedly great rookie season. This may not have happened if the preseason was shortened and Seattle may have still had Matt Flynn instead of him being traded to Oakland this offseason.
Whether you hate it or love it, preseason is a necessary evil. There are the bad parts that include the play and the pay, but there are also parts of it that help build championship rosters. Like it or not, the preseason is something that football fans will have to continue to deal with. And honestly, it is best that it stays this way.
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