Mark Murphy says preseason is too long, but no clear way to fix it

Getty Images

After six months have passed without a single NFL game being played, even preseason games can garner significant interest from football-starved fans. And then after about two preseason games, everyone is ready for the regular season to start.

Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy recognizes that the length of the preseason is somewhat problematic. However, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious way to fix it.

“I think with all the concern about player health and safety, it would be difficult to go from 16 regular-season games to 18,” Murphy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “One of the things that has kind of been looked at is, do we reduce the number of games overall [to] three preseason games and 16 regular-season games? But obviously there’s a loss of revenue that comes with that.”

If the preseason was cut to three games, 16 NFL teams would lose an extra home game and the revenue that comes along with filling a stadium. Yet, the fourth preseason game clearly remains a problem on many levels.

“At the league level, we continue to study the preseason,” Murphy said. “Those of you that have been around the league for a long time, it’s changed dramatically. The way the players train in the offseason, the preseason games are just significantly different. The fourth [preseason] game, very few starters across the league play. They’re all on Thursday.

“So there are some that look and say, ‘Why do we play that game?’ The flip side is it’s a chance to look at and make some roster decisions on younger players [and] develop some players. But it is an issue within the league.”

Starters barely play, if they play at all, in the final preseason game. And while the point of the game is to get one last chance to evaluate players fighting for roster spots, the preceding cut to 75 players forces more regulars to play in the preseason finale than is necessary.

With training camps beginning to open this week, football is once again back upon us. Preseason games will soon follow and serve as the precursor to the regular season. And while four preseason games is almost universally accepted as too many, there doesn’t seem to be a clear way to make it better for everyone.

22 responses to “Mark Murphy says preseason is too long, but no clear way to fix it

  1. Amongst NFL owners… The term “loss of revenue” is not why they pay Roger… End of story.

  2. Yesterday’s report shows the Packers & all NFL teams do not have a problem with revenue at all. The teams that lose a home game could find ways to more evenly split the revenue from the team that hosts the home game. I didn’t see any concern from Mr Murphy about lowering the full price tickets of the exhibition games for the fans.

  3. “If the preseason was cut to three games, 16 NFL teams would lose an extra home game and the revenue that comes along with filling a stadium.”

    Simple solution. One year you get two preseason home games, the next year you get one. Last time I checked, there are an even number of teams, so this will work just fine.

    We don’t need 4 preseason games.

  4. For heaven’s sake, make the last two preseason games official and have an 18 game season.

    The CTI era is over. No one has to pretend we care about player health anymore. Here’s some money. Play.

  5. This is TOO easy to fix.

    Two pre-season games and a 16-game regular season.

    Extend the roster to 65 for the first 2-4 games of the season, then reduce it to the current level on the Monday after the 2nd or 4th game.

    There shouldn’t be revenue concerns, right, because safety always outweighs everything else? Right?
    But, if revenue is still a concern, there is always the possibility of adding additional playoff teams (stupid, but, stupid is as stupid does, right?) and now you have another 1-2 weeks to play with, given that we just reduced the pre-season schedule.

    Easy peasy. Sometimes, it DOES take a rocket scientist (I’m an engineer) to figure this stuff out, huh?

  6. This really isn’t all that difficult to figure out. Here is the answer, which is a win-win for everyone:

    17 regular season games, 3 preseason games, and 2 bye weeks during the season. This would be 19 week regular season instead of 17, which would generate more TV money. Keep the rosters at 90 for the entire preseason. Keep the Hall of Fame game, so two teams would play 4 preseason games.

    Keep the current scheduling format for 16 games, and the 17th game is an open format, so the NFL can schedule whatever games they want to generate the most interest.

    8 home games, 8 away games, and the 17th game can be played in London, Germany, Mexico, and anywhere else they want to go. Play a game oversees for the troops, which would be a huge PR win for the league. Play a game in Alaska and Hawaii as well.

    One preseason game at home and one away. The third could be moved to neutral sites that don’t have games like San Antonio or Boise. This would get more people in the stands in the preseason, and season ticket holders wouldn’t get screwed by having to buy tickets to two games.

    Change the schedule so the Super Bowl is the Sunday of President’s Day weekend. A lot of people are off on that Monday, so we can avoid the Super Bowl hangover. Sorry NASCAR, but I’m sure something could be worked out to satisfy the Daytona 500 fans.

    Problem solved. Can I get the commissioner’s pay for one day for this?

  7. The 4th preseason game is a waste of time and talent since as was mentioned the starters hardly play at all and so fans are left to watch backups and players who won’t make the team play. I wouldn’t mind going down to 3 preseason games and starting the season a week earlier.

  8. I think two of the four preseason games should be eliminated and replaced with scrimmages with other teams.

    Don’t look for that to happen because guys like Murphy like charging season ticket holder full price for a preseason ticket while the game is played with backup players and camp bodies who will not be on the team come September.

  9. One idea that would barely create a dent is moving the hof ceremony and game one week back during week 1 of the preseason. This would prevent any two teams from playing 5 games. Just need a team to agree to take away a home preseason game. But don’t really see that being a problem because season ticket holders would like that and you could give the home team part of what NBC is paying the NFL.

  10. Here is my idea for the preseason:

    Keep the preseason at 4 weeks with NFL clubs only playing 3 games a piece. 2 home games, 1 away game.

    Introduce a developmental league consisting of 8 teams. Each of those 8 teams is assigned to a division within football meaning they strictly play against those NFL clubs. Have those 8 teams play all road against NFL clubs during the preseason which would facilitate NFL clubs having 2 home games.

    Bye weeks could be decided based on your previous years record. The worst team in the division (which likely has a new head coach) has a first week bye; allowing extra game planning and analysis on players. Bye weeks also serve as a week to review players and heal from injuries.

    It would benefit the developmental league since they would get national exposure and they’d get the chance to see what players are going to get cut. They could also practice with the NFL club they’re facing each week to scout players and talk to coaches.

    By practicing each week with the NFL clubs it would help develop and intern program for new coaches as they could pick the brains of current staff and understand how NFL clubs work.

    It would benefit NFL clubs since they could get the two home games and revenue associated with it.

    I know this final statement is a little out there, but with each developmental team being assigned to a division would it be that crazy to limit their roster to strictly cast-offs from the NFL division?

  11. Having followed the league since the late 70’s, here’s an easy suggestion. DROP THE PRICE on preseason games. Cut them in half if not more.

  12. I apologize for my typo. I would also like to point out with the developmental teams playing against preseason rosters it would produce a competitive product each week given that it’s bubble player against developmental talent.

  13. The Packer’s own recently publicized financials provide the answer — each team gets at least $220,000,000 annually in TV revenue — I think each team can afford to lose one home game worth of ticket revenue.

  14. The way to fix the preseason is to not eliminate any of the games. The first and third games should be with players who are expected to be on the roster and players who have 2 or more years already in the NFL. This is the classic preseason to get NFL ready players ready to play for the season. Two games should be sufficient to work out the bugs and be ready to play. Games 2 and 4 should be for players who are trying to get on some film, have less than two years NFL experience and are not expected to make the team they are on. Basically, if you could qualify to be on a team’s practice squad, then you qualify to play in games 2 and 4. With all the talk of a development league, this gets the players more playing time, more exposure and more experience preparing them to be better NFL players. This also allows teams to get more footage of players in case they are someone that may fill a need for them. This meets the teams need to protect their best players, gives the fan something to watch to get ready for the season (some fans may enjoy watching guys they don’t normally see (i.e. people watched strike football)), and gives players who may not actually get many reps, a good bit of actual play time.

  15. So when it comes down to “the good of the game” versus revenue, we know which wins.

  16. One way to fix the issue is to go to two pre-season games with a 90 player roster, trimming to 75 after the second and final preseason game. Usually there are 45 or so players who are “locks” going into the preseason to make a team (returning vets, high draft picks, free agents). Use the preseason games to see who gets cut.

    Then go to an 18 game regular season with a bye week. Each player can only dress for 16 games, making scouting for depth THAT much more important. The first six games see a fixed roster of 45. The other 30 players are on a “transition roster”. These are players who are going to be evaluated over the first six regular season games and weeks of practice. Carrying the additional depth should help with the 16 game limit.

    After the sixth game, rosters are trimmed to 65 (53 plus practice squad).

    The fans get to have two very meaningless preseason games erased (1 and 4 are a total joke now). The NFLPA gets to have job expansion for the short term. The owners keep their current amount of home games for revenue.

  17. Don’t allow any starters to play in the preseason at all. Let the four summer games be a developmental league, per se (details by others to follow!)

  18. Sure you can change the preseason and it can set up the regular season.

    First, require teams to name a starting team before the first preseason team and require that team to play half the snaps in all preseason games.

    Second, if a team wins a preseason game by more than two touchdowns, the win counts in regular season and the loss counts on the other team’s. This will require the teams to start playing to win instead of just sticking in meatloaf filler to protect their prima donnas.

    Third, play only three preseason games.

    Fourth, in a tie breaker for the playoffs, if that team had a losing preseason, they are seeded lower than a team with the same record in the regular season provided that team has a winning preseason record.

    Fifth, teams will be required to play their starters in the second half, not the first half. This will ensure that games are played to win, not to coast.

    Teams will be allowed to keep 60 players instead of 53 and all of them will be required to be active. A team that has a winning record in preseason will be allowed three additional roster spots.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.