The Preseason Dilemma Facing The NFL
NFL Preseason Football has been under a lot of scrutiny for years. The problem with preseason is complicated, on one hand, preseason is used to evaluate and prepare the rookies to get them acclimated to the speed of the pro level. On another hand, preseason has been the cause of some season ending injuries to important players on some teams.
In 2015 during week 2 of the Preseason, Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson caught a ball, but when he landed on the turf, he hurt his knee, MRI reports would later confirm that he had a torn ACL on his right knee and would be out the whole year.
In 2016 during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahaws, QB Tony Romo injured his back which ultimately caused him to retire from football. Sam Bradford in 2014 tore his ACL during a preseason game that caused him the whole 2014 season.
Here’s the crazy part, most injuries occur during training camp so it isn’t fair to blame preseason games for year ending injuries. While injuries are a part of football and there’s absolutely no way of completely getting rid of them, they can be helped.
All training camp practices have referees that make sure all penalties that would be called during the regular season are emphasized for the newcomers. Having joint practices with other teams has become something most NFL teams are doing now. It’ll be easier for teams to work with opposing teams and work on their offenses and defenses respectively.
NFL Preseason games at the end of the day are more costly to the players than they are rewarding to the fans. The starters play anywhere between 6-10 plays per game so most fans leave the games before the rookies even get warmed up.
The latest example of Preseason injuries is Patriots WR Julian Edelman, during game 3 of the NFL preseason against the Lions by completely tearing his ACL.
Although Preseason Football viewership is on the rise from last year. Week 1 of the NFL preseason averaged 1.6 million viewers on NFL Network, up 10% from last year, when aired on both NFL Network and ESPN but down 8% from 2015 on the NFL network alone. While NFL preseason is a chance for Rookies to shine and show what they can bring to the table, the NFL has to find a way to protect its players while also keeping fans engaged in the offseason.
All NFL teams have open training camp for the fans to go enjoy the practices, that should be their bread and butter, it’ll keep fans far more entertained that going to meaningless games since they’re there to see certain players and there’s a chance that particular or those particular players won’t play. While the stadiums and the teams profit of the fans going, by offering more incentives to going to the training camps and/or holding more practices in their stadiums will surely keep fans going to the events.
If it means player safety at least during game, the NFL should look into fixing the current preseason system, too many injuries to high profile players during games that don’t win or lose the Super Bowl.
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