Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Preseason...why? Revisited or Finding Allies in Weird Places

In one of my first posts, about a year ago, I stepped out of the Seahawk discussion to voice my dislike of the preseason. Now, I would let the topic die, but Jeremy shock is on my side. I don't know if that makes me feel better, but he makes some good points.

To paraphrase shock, training camp was invented in the days when athletes came into camp out of shape and needed to get there. The players NEEDED two-a-days. Those players also sold cars and insurance in the offseason.

Today's players make more than enough money, and work out year around. Players that come to camp out of shape are, still there, but not as abundant as they once were.

Now obviously, you need some sort of training camp to get players ready. But do we need as many two-a-days? Do we need four meaningless games?

Training camp and pre-season football only bring injuries and holdouts. Fan interest sways away from baseball and back to football, but it would no matter when camp opened.

In this age of instant replay and every game on TV, the league that is the most up-to-date with current trends is dragging its feet with how it prepares for the season.

Training camp can be shortened, teams can play two exhibition games, and the season can be 18 weeks long. Fewer players are invited to camp and coaches don't need the month and a half to look at prospects. If they truly did, what are spring and summer mini-camps for?

All pre-season does is fill the TO-hype machine and bring injuries (Dwight Freeney is the latest big name to drop, albeit with just a sore shoulder). Its outdated and unnecessary in its current form, and now its time for a change.

(to comment, click the green number to the right of the title above)


  1. I disagree,By taking away two a days it would make the players more soft then the already are.If the older players came in in bad shape then the bigger,faster
    more shapely modern athlete should have no problem with the two a days.And there are as many as 15 rookies on any given team, it give those rookie a shot at showing what they can do.If there was no or a short preseason we probably would't have guys like the leanard Weavers or Marquis Weeks.Remember injury is part of football.The only problem with the game are these rules that protect certain positions.

  2. I disagree.

    Back in the day there was no free agency. Players never left. Teams never had to integrate a new players into their starting lineups every year. Players were drafted, toiled for a few years learning the system, and then replaced the veteran who retired with the team that drafted him.

    Back in the day coaches weren't hired and fired on whim. Coaches had 4+ years to turn around a 1-13 team. Today, most coaches only have 2 years to make the playoffs. Not to mention that coordinators never used to be fired by the head coach to save their own ass. Head coaches didn't "install a new system". It was their system and if it had to go, they had to go with it.

    Back in the day there was no salary cap. Teams weren't constantly looking for younger, cheaper player to replace expensive veterans. Teams now must balance the total financial cycle of player development.

    To say pre-season is too long ignores the complexity of the modern game. And by game I mean business that the NFL has become. Not only have the players gotten bigger, stronger and faster, but the business of football has become more expensive, more risky, and more profitable.

    But there is one preseason fraud I'll agree to. Selling preseason tickets at the same price as the normal season ticket is flat out robbery. The two are not of equal value. The NFL should own up to it and charge less for the preseason tickets. Raise the regular season ticket prices to offset the difference, but don't try to convince us that those games have the same value.

  3. Very good points. However, as I said, the NFL has become year around. There are mini-camps in the spring and summer. This can be the chance for rookies to start their impressions on coaches. This is when the new system is learned.

    Is it a replacement for training camp? No. And training camp should continue to some extent. But, do we really need a month of two-a-days? I don't think so.

    I also don't buy the athletes will get soft if they don't have two-a-days. These guys work out year arround, they come into shape for the most part in camp. Teams should set up fines for those who don't. We'll see how many come into shape a little overweight if that was in place.

    Also something to think about, college football teams don't have a preseason, and there training camps are much shorter than the pros.

    I will agree that full-priced preseason games are a rip off. Half-price tickets, or at least half-price concessions!

  4. Alan, not only are you wrong, but if I'm not mistaken, you're agreeing with JEREMY SHOCKEY??!!

    Football is a game of PRECISE timing and being where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there. Athletes can work out year round and come to camp in the best shape of their lives, but that won't do SQUAT to improve their timing, pass blocking or route running.

    Why do you think there are so many outstanding college athletes that are busts in the NFL? The reason is that the game is played at a much higher level, and those without the mental or physical ability to raise their level of play can't make it. It has nothing to do with being in shape, and everything to do with being PREPARED.

    And if you really want to end this argument, you can do it with one word: MONEY!

    Owners charge fans full price to attend pre-season games, even though you may only get to see the starters for 1 or two series, and networks are paying, and making money off advertising to televise them.

    And lastly, the fact these these guys are very well compensated is exactly the reason why you need this 50 year old regimin - - - so the coaches can knock the caviar and dom perignon out of their systems, and mold them from coddled millionaires into the same blood-thirsty cavemen who were selling cars and insurance during the off seasons 3 generations ago.

    Now THAT'S football!

  5. Training camp and pre-season the way itis good for players in my opinion. I have to agree with the other guys here AlanI have nothing else to add though.

    I think the regular season is fine and pre-season is too. I have heard for a while that there should be 18 regular season games and 2 pre-season ones but the regular formation seems perfect to me.

    Players will always get injured and sidelined in pre-season mostly not because it is a super serious thing but a few things here and there that they don't want to aggrivate. I doubt T.O would sit out a regular season game with the injury he has now. Most injuries you here during the pre-season aren't big at all.

    Few big name stars actually get hurt during pre-season. And if u can't handle 2 a days your soft.


  6. I guess I should also be concerned that panalists on Around the Horn also hold this view.

    We'll agree to disagree, and I'll promise not to write this again next year.


  7. Alan, you're also agreeing with Peter King, which I thought was a big no-no around here (considering the post calling Peter King an Idiot of Crap).

  8. Yeah, I know I'm keeping bad company. However, out of his nine ten ways to change the league, I thought the 18 game schedule was one of the better ones. At least it wasn't "Give teams with no offenses more points" or another column about his doctor's appointments. Please Sports Illustrated, give Peter King the offseason off.

    I think the only thing that can save my argument now is if Shaun Alexander came out and said he felt it was to long.

  9. In principle I agree with Alan. The pre-season is too long, and not especially productive since much of it ends up dedicated to a) the backup QBs, and b) the last 8 players or so trying to make a roster. It's hard to even argue that the pre-season games are serious tune-ups since the starters play so few live snaps and many backups play in personnel packages that would never take the field together in a regular season game.

    The four game pre-season, as many have pointed out, helps with roster construction. But frankly, I'm not sure how much more diagnostic the games are than practice. Maybe in a few cases some rookie UFA does something in game conditions the coaches never saw in practice but I suspect good coaching staffs don't overweight that kind of thing.

    I think the league could shorten its pre-season, focus it more on the starters getting game timing and game conditioning, yet still provide coaches a real opportunity to evaluate end-of-the-roster players by liberalizing its salary cap rules. I have written here before how I am in favor of a softer cap, but even short of that the league would do itself a favor by expanding practice squads by a few players and allow teams more flexibility to cycle players on and off during the roster.

  10. Hate to join the crusade against you here, but I think the preseason is a necessary evil. I definitely understand your view on injuries, I hate when players get injured in meaningless games (don't even get me started on all star games), but the preseason dos a few things that aren't even mentioned here. It gives Coach a chance to see if Ashworth, Spencer, Womack, or Sims would be the best choice at LG. It lets Kelly Jennings get some snaps against NFL wide receivers, without knowing the play before the snap. It Gives Ken Hamlin a chance to get a few licks in before the games really count. It needs to stay.

  11. I would like to clarify that I don't want to get rid of pre-season all together. It is needed to some degree. But, I think two games could still suffice instead of four. Four is a bit to long. Starters don't play that much, and we're stuck paying top dollar for games.

  12. Meeze - don't think you're gonna slip that Jerramy Stevens slam by me...oh no you don't!!!

    Holmgren quickly added that Stevens “is a good guy who has come a long way … since he’s been with us. He had a good season, and one of the reasons we were in the Super Bowl was because of Jerramy Stevens.”

    So THERE!

  13. Alan - another voice of dissent...

    From the President’s Desk
    Tim Ruskell on the perception of preseason games:

    “I understand why some people think there are too many preseason games and would rather see regular season games. But I’m a personnel guy. It’s an extremely valuable tool for us to evaluate talent – not only on our team, but on other teams if those players become available.”

  14. Guess I should throw away the In Ruskell We Trust t-shirt....


  15. Holmgren quickly added that Stevens “is a good guy who has come a long way … since he’s been with us. He had a good season, and one of the reasons we were in the Super Bowl was because of Jerramy Stevens.”

    Stevens has come a long way since being drafted. i hope he can be even better this year meaning when we make it to the super bowl don't drop passes. I think he can be a legitimate deep and short threat thay will reak havoc on LBers and Safeties if he can be consistently good. I mean don't let us forget your name for 2 weeks then comeback afterwards. be good every game.