The New York Giants are just one of several teams that have seen key players get hurt in the exhibition games of the preseason. The injury bug has infected a handful of teams already this season. It raises the question: should the preseason be changed?
The Giants have lost Mykkele Thompson and Bennett Jackson for the season. Landon Collins and Jon Beason both have been hurt this preseason (though they may both be ready by the regular season). The Giants secondary actually has more injuries than you’d see in an emergency room on a night with a full moon.
The Green Bay Packers lost star receiver, Jordy Nelson in a preseason game. The Packers could still wind up in the Super Bowl because Aaron Rodgers is amazing. That being said, this is a big blow to the Packers in a glorified scrimmage.
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost Maurkice Pouncey in a preseason game. The Steelers even lost their kicker, Shaun Suisham in the Hall of Fame Game (an extra preseason game). Yeah, the Steelers and Minnesota Vikings get five preseason games.
There are two facts that are unavoidable in this debate. The first fact is that players will get hurt playing football. The second fact is that nobody wants to see a star fall to an injury in a game where winning doesn’t matter at all.
It’s hard to justify doing away with the entire preseason, but it is clearly too long. The starting players need to get some work in that cannot be simulated in practice. They have to start taking some real hits. The coaches need time to evaluate who will make the team and who will be cut. It has a purpose.
The preseason could honestly consist of one or two weeks. The coaches don’t need four games to evaluate undrafted free agents and journeyman backups.
When you have teams like the Giants, who have an injury report in mid-season form, you start to wonder what the point of the preseason is. Then you remember the NFL is a business. Forcing season ticket holders to pay full price to see a watered down version of your product is good for the bottom line.
The NFL has no leg to stand on here however. The league that continuously preaches “integrity of the game” and “player safety” contradicts itself with the preseason. Giving fans a lesser product for the first four weeks does not scream integrity of the game. Risking player injury in a game where the result means nothing goes against player safety.
The NFL preseason cannot be completely done away with. There is purpose to having some preseason football. We just need less of it. At the end of the day fans want their money back and teams want their injured stars back.
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