In a little over three weeks, the 2013 NFL season will kick off, and it certainly promises to be an exciting campaign. But before the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens take on Peyton Manning and the highly-touted Broncos, there are still a few more weeks of preseason football to go, much to the chagrin of many a football fan.
It’s not that preseason football is as interesting as, say, curling. The position battles, the stories of unheralded talents trying to make it past the final cuts and onto the 53-man roster, and the inevitable camp skirmishes are all interesting to follow. And for some, being able to see NFL football lines back on the board is enough to get them perked up. However, many fans, players, and coaches are of the opinion that the preseason is too long, and it’s highly possible that it will be shortened sometime in the near future.
In the meantime, we still have to sit through the better part of a month of games where performances are much, much more important than the results. Therein lies the primary argument for keeping the preseason as long as it is, or at most, shortening it by only one game. Just one or two games isn’t necessarily enough to determine key position battles or roster spots, and having four, or even three games, allows for those situations to play themselves out properly and for everyone else to work up to game sharpness by the time the regular season starts.
Those in opposition to the current preseason format point to, along with the aforementioned lack of interest and intrigue, the increased likelihood of injuries and the effect the added wear and tear can have at the end of the season and beyond. But serious injuries can happen at any time, and as for short and long-term wear and tear, football is an extremely punishing game, and short of playing the game in bubble wrap or body casts, the possibility–or probability, rather–of wear and tear that’s felt in January next year or January in 20 years is always going to be there.
Ultimately, one good compromise could be to trim the amount of actual games by one or two and increase the amount of non/low-contact scrimmages or shortened full-contact scrimmages between teams. That would ensure that players can still be evaluated in a competitive setting, while at the same time limiting, even if only slightly, the possibility of serious injuries and the amount of wear and tear that occurs before the regular season starts.
Changes to the preseason and perhaps the regular season as well are likely to come within the next few years, and it will certainly be interesting to see what eventually gets the green light. Until then, let’s look on the bright side. Sure, the wait for the excitement of the regular season and the top betting action that comes with it will make the anticipation boil over for NFL fans around the country and the world, but when the good stuff does start, it’s going to be really, really good.