John Harbaugh shares his disdain for preseason football


The Ravens lost tight end Benjamin Watson to a torn Achilles and they are waiting for word on an MRI of rookie running back Kenneth Dixon’s injured knee, which makes it unsurprising that coach John Harbaugh used some of his time with the media on Saturday to lament preseason games.

Harbaugh said that he wasn’t a fan of preseason games before those injuries — he said his ideal number of games would be zero — and that he hopes that there will be changes to the way the preseason works to eliminate some of the risk involved in the four-week exhibition schedule.

“I know the league and the Players Association is working very hard and trying to figure out ideas to work out the preseason,” Harbaugh said. “These are big, fast, strong men running around out there. It’s not 25 years ago. … It went to four [games] in the 70s. It’s not the 70s anymore. These guys playing in these games, it’s tough, and they’re not meaningful games. They are important to get better, and they improve us. But we football coaches can find ways to get our guys ready and get our players evaluated without the kind of risk that a game necessarily entails. I’m really hopeful that the union and the league can get together and do something that’s good for everybody, especially what’s good for the players. And for the fans.”

Harbaugh has expressed other displeasure with the offseason schedule, particularly the limitations on how much players can work with members of the coaching staff. The league has also expressed its displeasure with the Ravens putting rookies in pads during a period in the schedule when that isn’t allowed by fining Harbaugh and the team.

There is a risk of injury any time players are on a football field, be it in a practice, scrimmage or game, but this year has seen a rising number of teams opting to severely limit playing time for established players if they put them on the field at all. That would suggest that other coaches share some of Harbaugh’s feelings about preseason football, although it remains to be seen if there will be any changes to the status quo.

39 responses to “John Harbaugh shares his disdain for preseason football

  1. The fans don’t much enjoy having to purchase two full price pre season tickets as part of their PSL either.

  2. I wonder is Harbaugh knows nobody is forcing him to play players. He could’ve just sat all his starters and vets if he hates preseason so bad.

  3. No one says you have to play your starters in week 3. However, when you get blown out in week 1 because your guys aren’t ready, don’t whine about that as well.

    If you have a way for the players to get ready for the season that doesn’t involve a live scrimmage against other football players, knock yourself out.

  4. If you gave this guy a million dollars in five dollar bills he’d bitch about wanting it in hundreds.

  5. Play all the scrubs. Get people off the street. No starters. THAT is how you prove your point. Might not work but the message is there.

    Plenty of people off the streets who would like to play in one NFL game.

  6. jakec4 says:
    Aug 28, 2016 10:51 AM
    The fans don’t much enjoy having to purchase two full price pre season tickets as part of their PSL either.

    You bought a PSL which is the height of fan gouging by a team. You really expect they won’t charge you full price for a pre-season game?

    I think charging full-price for the pre-season is ridiculous. That doesn’t mean the games shouldn’t be played.

  7. Every year we go through this. People complain about the number of pre season games, Yet the teams need it. The majority of teams look like trash right now. Two weeks of once a day light practices doesn’t prepare a team for squat. Perhaps if Training camp were 3 weeks with two a days we could eliminate a game or two.

  8. “I don’t need a pre-season to be in mid-season whining form. Nowadays, I stay in shape year round.” – John Harbaugh

  9. He is exactly right. There is zero reason for the pre-season. It is a joke. For the players, the coaches and the fans.

    I love how college football doesnt need a pre-season but the NFL needs one. If you are a head coach and u cant figure out your best players then you have no business being a head coach. These coaches know who their best players are.

  10. What sort of memo do you think that he would get from the league and his own front office if he didn’t play any starters in preseason games? It is kind of like talking to the press. It is something that you have to do.

  11. All you ppl that whine about Harbaugh being a whiner are hypocritical idiots. Just because he speaks up, you act like he’s not allowed to have an opinion when a reporter asks him a question. Moreover, he’s forced to play some of his vets to match the game level of other teams. Otherwise, those players are more succeptinle to injuries by playing against guys who are more game ready.

    He suggested that all teams play by the same rules to avoid that unevenness. And btw, look at how many guys he’s sat in the preseason, and you will see that he tries to minimize vets time in the field, while ensuring their ready for week one. And anyone that suggests he’s anything but a solid human being, need to learn a bit more about this guy.

  12. They could cut back to 2 preseason, keep it at 16 regular season and still make more TV money. All they have to do is give each team 2 bye weeks to stretch out the regular season by a week.

    The Hamburger Helper Theory.

  13. John Harbaugh is a cool dude. One of the top coaches in all of football yet…haters gon hate.

    Meanwhile, Belicheat and the Brady bunch are in a back room somewhere looking for new rules to break.

    And Roethlisberger is probably in a bathroom stall somewhere…

  14. The experts who know football call him one of the best coaches in the league. Look at the respect he gets from big personality seasoned vets like Smith Sr. and Suggs. Hate on haters he’s not going anywhere.

  15. I think the only time when this guy is not complaining is the hours he is asleep. Even then I’ll bet you he is dreaming up more ways to complain. How about shut up and play football. If there were less preseason football games the product would get even worse. It’s bad enough the first quarter of the season alreadynamic.

  16. If the preseason is cut all the more injuries will happen and the first few regular season games will have a horrible level of play when its bad enough the first couple already.

    And imagine if your team has a new head coach and coaching staff ? Any team in that situation is pretty much guaranteed a horrible season because the coaches won’t have enough time to install their systems.

    Its got to stay at 4 games.

  17. Not that I disagree with his general sentiment, but it’s hard to blame Watson’s injury on it being a pre-season game.

    It was a non-contact injury. It could just as easily have happened at practice.

  18. Raise your hand if you’d like to go to pay full price to go to a concert just to see the undercard. Or a Broadway show with a big headliner only to get the understudy.

    Or if packer fans were excited seeing Jordy go down last year.

    So you can hate on Harbs all you want but the fact is he isn’t wrong about the system needing to change and to say otherwise just proves your hypocrisy

  19. Be interesting at the end of the pre-season to see somebody list the number of significant injuries suffered in these foolish cash grabs

  20. Whether you get injured in preseason or in the regular season, what difference does it make? Injuries are part of the game now as players are stronger and faster.

  21. It won’t be long before he’s complaining about having to play the Steelers twice a year.

  22. tylawspick6 says:
    Aug 28, 2016 11:03 AM
    harbaugh sucks

    he needs one large punch in the mouth

    cannot stand this arrogant, vile human being

    43 43
    Report comment

    No he doesn’t because he is correct in this instance. You on the other hand are long over due for your mouth being duct tape shut much to everyone’s approval.

    While I can’t stand Harbaugh most of the time on this is correct but it will never change so let’s move on ladies.

  23. Why would he complain about playing the steelers twice a year Crown? Ravens have won 8 on the last 11.

  24. I think all those on here complaining about Harbaugh should be required to buy tickets for all 4 preseaon games of their favorite team and be required to attend. Put your money where your mouth is.

  25. So if there was only ONE preseason game and this was week TWO of the regular season and the guy got injured anyway, WHAT DIFFERENCE WOULD IT MAKE?

  26. There are multiple factors involved in injuries; I don’t think you can just blame playing preseason games. Like someone said above – if you need to protect your players from injuries, don’t play them. Hell, just kneel down on every snap of the game to make your point.

    I think real speed playing time is important for evaluation and preparation, but there aren’t any NFL teams willing to hire me as a coach.

  27. Sounds like a guy already making excuses for a bad seas0n. The guy player tripped over his own feet on the first play. The guy is 35 years old. Blame the guy who signed the guy with the aging achilles.

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