The NFL preseason is starting to feel like Plaxico Burress in a club: the intentions are good, but next thing you know?
You’ve shot yourself in the foot.
Ultimately, the NFL preseason (money grab) is once again resulting in injuries (and subsequent fan angst) to a slew of stud players. We all know about Kenneth Dixon (knee) & Ben Watson (Achilles) in Baltimore, but other NFL cities have not been exempt from similar fates: Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back), Falcons S Keanu Neal (knee), Chargers RB Brandon Oliver (ACL), Falcons WR Julio Jones (ankle), Panthers OG Trai Turner (shoulder), Bengals RB Cedric Peerman (broken arm), Bengals WR AJ Green (knee), Colts OG Jack Mewhort (knee)…
… but yea .TOTALLY worth it to have four preseason games.
Ravens coach Johnny Harbs (we’re gonna make this a ‘thing’) recently expressed his irritation with the preseason, suggesting ‘more regular season games, fewer preseason games and bigger rosters’ which is all fine and dandy, but there’s this thing called a Collective Bargaining Agreement, and there’s this stubborn guy named DeMaurice Smith, and in short- it ain’t happenin’ Harbs.
As a counter to Harbaugh’s proposal, and ultimately the best way go about saving star players, is to take a ‘Pops’ approach to the preseason.
For those of you who don’t know Pops, or Greg Popovich as weird people call him, he is the longtime coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Pops is no nonsense. He doesn’t care for media. Or people in general. And he doesn’t give a crap what people think about his decisions with his team; after all, his five rings speak louder than those naysayers.
So Pops does this really cool thing, where he rests star players at random times during the season. And not for extended shifts or halfs, but entire games. Nationally televised games. Games against top seeded teams that typically draw high ratings (well, high for NBA) and put butts in the seats. But does Pops care? NO! Ultimately, his star players stay healthy and avoid playing in unnecessary games.
Enter NFL Preseason.
While it’s completely insurmountable to think the NFLPA will simply fold to the tune of ‘hey, the NFL will save your players’ potential preseason injuries if you give us more regular season games!’ it’s not out of the question for individual teams and coaches to take matters into their own hands, just as Pops has done in the NBA.
Don’t. Play. Starters. EVER.
If the NFL is insistent of having each team host two preseason games (and charge full ticket price in doing so), why wouldn’t teams simply bench all starters for all four games to avoid any and all potential injuries (notwithstanding those incidents occurring at practice)?
Sure, they already limit starter play to a drive in the 1st game, a quarter in the 2nd game and a half in the 3rd preseason game (unless you want to be Sean Payton and play your starters in the 4th against backups because why not?), but the risk still remains for every single snap the players see. The most logical logic (from the Dept of Redundancy Dept.) for preseason games is for young, inexperienced players to see live action. The vets don’t need to run the risk for the sake of ‘getting up to game speed,’ they simply need to stay healthy for Week 1 through February (football Gods willing).
In essence, it’s a simple solution for all parties- the NFL/NFLPA don’t need to go to war, the starters remain healthy, and the young bucks & backups can duke it out for roster spots.
Might the coaches get some flack from the fan base who can’t watch their favorite players, or possibly from the commish for killing ratings and losing butts in seats? It’s possible, but taking another cue from Pops, coaches need only one reply…