Unlike most preseason football games, last night’s 27-25 win by the Jets over the Giants was worth the price of admission. The game was close throughout and the Giants came close to tying things up at the end. More importantly, both teams emerged from the game without suffering any significant injuries and that is the problem with the preseason.
Football is a violent game by nature. On every play, behemoths on both sides of the ball crash into each other. Most plays end with one player being thrown to the ground by one or many opposing players. For admirers of the game, there is beauty in this violence and the league has taken many steps to protect its players. From the introduction of helmets many years ago to the elimination of the wedge this past offseason, the NFL is constantly trying to keep players healthy and on the field. That is why they should take the next logical step and get rid of half of preseason games.
Yes, preseason football does help sort out some roster issues and decide who will start on a given team, but it is mostly about selling tickets that bring the owners additional revenue. Season ticket holders are forced to pay for two extra games, which judging by the empty seats at most stadiums, nobody really wants.
That’s why eliminating two preseason games makes sense. Have each team play one game at home and one game on the road. Season ticket holder will be happy to avoid having to pay for two meaningless games. Players will be happy because without guaranteed contracts, a serious injury could mean the end of their livelihood. The owners will have to forgo some revenue, but in an era of multimillion-dollar TV contracts and stadiums crammed with luxury boxes, that is a sacrifice they can afford to make to safeguard their players.