Preseason match ups, otherwise known as “exhibition” games, have been played before the regular season since the 1920’s, when the NFL was founded. These games allow young talent that the teams acquire during the draft, or even other various points throughout the off season, to suit up, and hit the field.
Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner since 2006, has spoken out before about the possibility of shortening the preseason games to about 2-3 games. The proposition would also include lengthening the season by two games.
Now that the idea of shortening the preseason games has arose again, fan bases across the country are beginning to speak up and voice their opinions.
Colin Kirkwood, student at Cal U and Pittsburgh Steelers fan, sides with Goodell and believes that the length of preseason games should be shorter, in order to preserve the health of the players.
“The length of preseason should only be about two games long, but I’m also an advocate for adding another game into the regular season. With the added game, I could definitely see another bye week being beneficial to the players and teams towards the top of the league.”
Health in the NFL is as big of a concern now, as it’s ever been, due to the detrimental effects in the long run of concussions and injuries that are pushed under the rug. With four preseason games before the start of the season, players are under just as much stress to keep their safety a top concern. Tyrod Taylor, quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, suffered a concussion during a 2017 preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens when his head slammed into the turf on a sack.
Aside from concussions, season ending injuries such as tears, fractures, and breaks are just as common throughout practices and exhibition match ups. Julian Edelman, wide receiver for the New England Patriots, tore his right ACL on a quick move to his side against the Detroit Lions earlier this week. Sticking with the theme of injuries, Odell Beckham Jr., Spencer Ware, and Bryce Petty all have incurred injuries that could possibly sit them on the bench for the beginning of the 2017 season.
On the flip side of this discussion, the preseason contests allow young talent to make a name for themselves before the opening of the season. With many of the injuries, other players in the second or even third spot on the depth chart, are forced to step up and pick up the slack that is left with a starter being out.
One advantage of these early season games, is the competition of a starting role for teams that need a revamp in various positions. Most of this competition is reported at the quarterback spot, however, all across the roster you can see the passion that is displayed by the actions of these young players in preseason.
From a fans perspective, the preseason games give them a chance to see the talent that their favorite teams have drafted and picked up in the offseason. Athletes making the transition from the college game to the professional ranks are not only faced with having to adapt their game, but they also under constant scrutiny from coaches and fans. The preseason games allow the young players to adapt their game, lifestyles, and attitudes to fit the mold of a NFL athlete.