The start of the NFL season is fast approaching and the first game is Thursday, September 8th, a Super Bowl rematch between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Currently, preseason games are underway, where most teams have played three out of four preseason games. In preseason games the starters play very little and backups play the majority to earn roster spots. Therefore, the majority of NFL fans find the preseason games boring and unnecessary, and the fans think the games should be cut down because four is too many. Therefore, let's investigate the issue.
The main argument against the preseason is that there is too much risk for injury to the players. For example, in 2015 the Green Bay Packers lost their top wide receiver, Jordy Nelson, for the season in the preseason. Then this year Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, broke a bone in his back and will be out until at least week four of the regular season. The preseason games mean absolutely nothing, but star players are prone to injury.
NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell agrees with this argument. He said about the preseason, “I don’t believe the veterans need four preseason games anymore. The primary purpose of a preseason for a team is to evaluate and develop players and then they select their teams. Our athletes stay in shape all year now. It’s a different game. So I believe we can get to two games.” Veteran players barely need any preseason action, they already know what the game speed is like and usually already have chemistry with teammates.
On the other hand, the preseason is great for rookies, younger players, and backups. For rookies and younger players, it helps the players get accustomed to the new style of play the NFL has compared to the NCAA. NFL coaches also love it for the younger players because it gives them an opportunity to develop their talent and work on things in a game. It also helps these players get used to playing with new teammates, develop chemistry, and prove themselves in game action. Then these games also help decide position battles, either for backup spots or starting roles which are huge for those backup players.
The coaches and organizations also utilize the games to evaluate the talent of newly signed players and recently drafted rookies. This gives the organization insite to each player’s potential and if they should hold onto or cut certain players. Therefore, especially for younger players, there is a need for the preseason.
Overall, what Goodell said is the best option and opinion. The preseason should be shortened to two games. Veterans need minimal time to get ready for the regular season and two games should be enough for teams to evaluate their talent. It should also be enough time for rookies to get accustomed to the league, but since so few rookies start week one they have extra time to prepare. The only drawback would position battles would have to primarily be decided in practice, which is not perfect but is a sacrifice that would be made. However, it is unlikely for this to happen because the NFL would lose revenue and for the reason alone the preseason probably will stay at four games for the time being.