It’s time for the NFL to re-evaluate the structure of its preseason schedule. Most teams play four preseason games, with their starters only playing for roughly a quarter of each game. Even with reduced playing time, a high number of players get injured each year, in games that mean almost nothing for players who were already on the roster.
Obviously, there are inherent dangers in playing football and the players accept those risks when they sign their contracts, but the NFL should make an effort to reduce the number of injuries that could easily be avoided. Over the course of this preseason, we have seen far too many serious and potentially season-ending injuries. I understand that many injuries occur in practice environments, but the league has already made attempts to reduce the risk of injury during practice. The 2011 collective bargaining agreement “includes cutbacks in offseason workouts and reductions in hitting in practices during training camp and the season.” Now it’s time for the NFL to address the high injury potential in preseason games.
In the past four weeks, several players have suffered season-ending injuries, including Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and Rams running back Isaiah Pead. This list continues from there, but all of the players who will now have to sit out for the season share one thing: They were injured in a game that meant absolutely nothing for their team. Several proposals have been brought up to reduce the number of injuries in the preseason. Most of the proposals include some reduction in the number of preseason games, with either an increase in regular season or playoff games.
There is a need for some amount of live, in-game action for the players to get comfortable with the game environment, but an effort should be made to reduce the number of injuries in essentially worthless games. The obvious opposition to a reduction in the number of preseason games would be less revenue for the league and its teams. However, if the quality of regular season play is damaged by the preseason via injuries, that also has potential to lessen revenue.
Revising the preseason schedule is something that the NFL has actually been discussing for sometime now. An article published by ESPN.com in August 2013 alluded to the potential change saying, “The NFL is urgently discussing a new scheduling formula that would include a three-game preseason.” No progress has been made on this issue yet, as owners have shown resistance to the loss of revenue from the fourth preseason game, but new suggestions have been made that would increase the number of playoff games, which would clearly make up for any lost revenue.
Personally, I think that the league could reduce the number of preseason games by two and add those two games onto the regular season. This way, the league and teams could actually increase their revenue, because regular season games have higher ticket sales and more valuable television contracts. According to the Washington Post, “The two concepts have been linked because expanding the playoffs would generate additional revenue to offset the financial losses the sport would suffer from shortening the preseason.”
Clearly there are several proposals on how to reduce the number of injuries in largely pointless preseason games. While none of the proposals may have the perfect solution, the important thing is that the league, the owners and the players come to an agreement that will reduce the detrimental impact of preseason games on player’s careers.
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