With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging through the United States, professional sports leagues have been forced to make sacrifices to return to play. The UFC and PGA Tour had to ban spectators to be able to resume last month. The MLB and NBA cut the end of their seasons short to streamline their return. Now, it’s the NFL‘s turn to make a change. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL have officially proposed a schedule with no preseason games in 2020. You’ll hardly hear NFL players and fans complaining, though.
Roger Goodell and the NFL are getting rid of all preseason games
Preseason football is the first glimpse fans get at the upcoming NFL season. It isn’t perfect, but coaches use the preseason to evaluate fringe players and make final roster decisions before the season gets underway.
Starters barely play in preseason games, so the product itself doesn’t provide much entertainment value. Not many football fans want to watch third and fourth stringers they’ve never heard of. Based on the NFL’s new schedule proposal, they won’t have to.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Monday that the NFL proposed a 2020 schedule with no preseason games to the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA has not accepted the proposal yet, but it’s expected to soon. After all, the players wanted no preseason games from the start of negotiations.
In place of preseason games, the NFL proposed a longer training camp for rookies and players on the cusp to get acclimated to life in the pros.
Hardly any NFL players or fans will complain about losing preseason games
Preseason games might be beneficial to players trying to make a final roster, but they present much more risk than reward for veteran starters. Some of the most devastating injuries in league history occurred during preseason games.
Just two years ago the Washington Redskins saw their star rookie RB, Derrius Guice, suffer a season-ending ACL tear in his first career preseason game. He hasn’t been the same player since.
Fellow running back Ki-Jana Carter suffered a similar injury in his rookie year in 1995. The first overall pick also tore his ACL in the preseason and missed the whole year. He never realized his potential in the NFL.
Trent Green missed out on a possible Super Bowl MVP when he got injured during the 1999 preseason. After injuring his knee in a preseason game, Green lost his starting spot to Kurt Warner and the Rams went on to win the Super Bowl the same season.
The list of preseason injuries goes on and on, and it grows larger every year. Cutting out preseason games will save some players their 2020 seasons.
Could this be a sign of things to come for the NFL preseason?
The NFL’s proposal to cut preseason games only applies to the 2020 season, but it could be a sign of things to come. If Roger Goodell, the players, and the owners are all satisfied, preseason games might become obsolete.
Obviously, the NFL would rather keep preseason games for extra television ratings, but safety and preserving the league’s brightest stars should be paramount. Imagine how badly the regular season ratings would suffer if Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady tore their ACL in the preseason.
Depending on how this experiment goes, we might have seen the final preseason game in the NFL.