In last night’s preseason opener “win” against the Cleveland Browns, the Washington Redskins lost tight end Niles Paul for the season with a broken ankle. The season as in the regular season.
Paul broke his ankle in a meaningless game in the preseason, something the NFL has had for far too long. The regular NFL season is 16 games long. That’s already far too long to play football, especially when it’s played the way it’s played today. Players are too big, too strong, and too fast to play that many games. The amount of carnage put on most NFL players on a weekly basis, is insane. The millionaires and billionaires that run the NFL ought to be coming up with ways of playing less football, not more.
The first thing they should do is abolish the preseason.
It’s not needed. Not really. College football, America’s second most popular sport, doesn’t have a preseason and it seems to get a long just fine without it. The players in college football are technically amateurs, yet they are somehow able to prepare themselves before the season starts without preseason games. NFL players come from the college ranks, so why do they need a preseason to prepare themselves?
Team owners enjoy the preseason because it makes them a lot of money, money they don’t have to share with the players. They force season ticket owners to buy two preseason home game tickets as part of the season ticket package. They also make a lot of money selling food and drink at each home game, whether it’s the preseason or the regular season. Concession stands charge the same for a beer whether it’s the preseason or the regular season.
Players make very little money during the preseason. Veteran players make a standard, flat-rate $1,600 per diem each week in training camp. Rookies make $850 a week during training camp. Preseason games are part of training camp. Players don’t make their regular paycheck until the regular season begins. Players in the NFL are paid 1/16 of their yearly salary each Monday of the regular season.
If I was in charge of the NFL, I’d abolish the preseason. I’d shorten the regular season to ten games, and I’d require a mandatory 10-day break for between games. This would allow players to recuperate more fully between games. Instead of concentrating most games on Sunday, I’d spread them out during the week. I’d also increase the 53-man roster to at least 70 players.
Preseason football, like all stupid things, will eventually go away. It’s just a matter of when, not if.