I had a chance to go to the Chiefs game on Thursday night. It was the first preseason game with new starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes taking the keys to the Kingdom. Mahomes played two series and then headed for the sidelines. It was then I realized: preseason football is a boring mess.
Arrowhead was barely recognizable —a different place than it is in the regular glory. Big sections of seats were empty. There was no sea of red and the thunderous noise on third down was no where to be found. Obviously, I am not alone in question the value of the preseason.
What is wrong with the preseason? First, the games are meaningless. A loss does nothing to impact whether a team makes the playoffs. For example, teams that do well in the postseason can do poorly in the regular season. In 2008, the Detroit Lions started off on fire. They went 4-0 in the preseason, but their scorching start was extinguish abruptly when they went 0-16 in the regular season.
Second, fans want to see the best players on the field. If you go to Arrowhead with excitement about the 2018 season, you don’t want to watch Michigan alum and NFL journeyman Chad Henne. Henne had one of the most famous loss in Michigan history, was drafted 57th overall by the Dolphins and did little to distinguish himself from there. And yet, he was the featured quarterback for a good portion of the Chiefs-Texan game.
It leads to the final point. One of the reasons the starters aren’t taking snaps is because of injury risk. You don’t want to lose your best players before the games that count begin. Nonetheless, preseason injuries still occur. Antonio Brown. Doug Baldwin. Both suffered injuries in recent weeks. In some cases, injuries can be season ending (and even career ending) such as Nick Easton’s neck injury.
Thursday night was a revelation for this writer. During my research, I was struck by the comments of Commissioner Goodell. While I am not a fan of Goodell, he has one thing right. “The NFL should do things to the highest possible standard,” said Commissioner Goodell. “Preseason games are not that.” It is time to take the problematic NFL preseason from four games down to two.