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.