Lost in the explosion of news regarding the Andrew Luck retirement is the possibility that the NFL will lose half of the preseason.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones addressed the situation with reporters after his team’s most recent preseason game, against the Texans.
“We are evaluating,” Jones said. “I’m involved in our labor negotiation and we’re having CBA negotiations every Monday and Tuesday. Have been for several weeks. We all — players, the league — are looking at preseason and looking at what we can do to make preseason better for our fans.”
To the extent Jones is still a fan, he may be the only fan who doesn’t mind the preseason.
“I’m one of these guys that there’s an element of preseason that’s exciting to me, but everybody doesn’t look at it that way,” Jones said. “I thought that when you look at the fact that there are a hundred players apiece almost out there on that field tonight, which represents probably several hundred million [dollars] worth of talent, that’s enjoyable to me to watch those guys get out there and play. But the bottom line is that everybody knows that at the end of the day, it’s my town against yours and we want to see competing right down to the last down and so getting there with [the] preseason doesn’t happen. So we’re taking a look at it. . . . It has been a subject of evaluating, looking at, critiquing since I’ve been in the league for 30 years.”
That’s fine, but the critiquing has reached critical mass. With more and more teams playing fewer and fewer starters in the games that don’t count, fewer and fewer fans care about those games. At some point, some of those games have to go away.
But the owners won’t give up the revenue that comes from those games without a way to replace it. And those games won’t be replaced unless and until the NFL Players Association agrees to play more games that count. And the NFLPA won’t do that until the NFL makes an offer that the NFLPA can’t refuse.
The NFL already may be at the point where it can’t fail to make that kind of an offer.