NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated Thursday his desire to slice the preseason in half, while adding two games to the NFL's regular season. It's an agenda he's been pushing for a while, and hopes to have in place for the 2012 season.
Why is he pushing so hard for the change? Money, naturally, but that's not something anyone's anxious to say out loud. The argument for a shortened preseason always gets cased in "We're doing this for the fans!" rhetoric. "The fans don't want these games!" "We can't keep charging fans full price for games that are not up to NFL standards!"
OK. Fine. But if that is indeed the problem, has anyone considered the simple solution? You know ... not charging fans full price for games that aren't up to NFL standards? Maybe, for these games, tickets aren't $100. Maybe they're $15. Maybe we could stop insisting that preseason games are worthless, but still charging fans $40 to watch them online.
Maybe -- and I know this sounds crazy -- but maybe we could use the preseason to take a break from the vicious, merciless, pocket-breaking act of price-gouging we engage in every other day of the year. Is that an option, commissioner?
This clamor from the fans to shorten the preseason ... where is it? Goodell says he's hearing it, but I'm not.
No one wants to pay for preseason games, of course, but that's not the same thing as wanting them to cease existing. Where's the outcry for these games not to go away? Is anyone's life being made miserable by the third and fourth preseason games? Are there protests? Has Bono started to encourage people to wear mauve-colored ribbons in support of ending the cruel practice of four preseason games?
Think about your team. Do you want it to have to make its final roster decisions right now? Are you comfortable with that? You wouldn't rather them take two more weeks, get more young guys in more game situations and see how they respond on the field?
These games aren't worthless. From a standpoint of pure entertainment, maybe they are, but for coaches and young players, they're vital. Does Tom Brady(notes) need four preseason games to sharpen his skills? No. Dennis Dixon(notes) does, though. Sixth- and seventh-round picks, as well as undrafted free agents need it, too. Not just to get better, but to make an impression. To get comfortable on the big stage, so they can earn a job.
How many guys have there been in NFL history who have earned a roster spot in the third or fourth preseason game, and then gone on to have solid careers? How many of those guys would be selling insurance right now if they'd only had two preseason games to make a mark?
I just don't see the need. Goodell and the owners seem hellbent on making the 18-game regular season, two-game preseason a reality, so it's probably going to happen. If there's a huge benefit to it -- other than more money for everyone involved, of course -- no one's been able to point it out to me.
The existence of these games hurts no one. Charging people full price to watch them -- that does. It seems like the simple solution is to simply stop doing that.