The debate over exhibition football

By Eric D. Graham, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: August 21, 2010

“If they never show another preseason game. I will be just fine.”

– Bomani Jones

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — Some people love it. Other people hated it. But the question remains, is the NFL’s preseason too long and unnecessary?

Yeah, we are talking about the dreaded preseason where the games don’t count and the fans don’t care who wins.

I may have to retract that last statement after watching the Jets versus the Giants on ESPN’s Monday Night Football fight for home field advantage in their newly build Meadowlands stadium, especially after seeing a bloody Eli Manning staggering off the field in disarray.

With the injury of Manning and other key players like Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (sprained MCL), Buffalo’s Fred Jackson (broken left hand), Tennessee’s Stafon Johnson (ankle) and Dallas’ Marc Colombo (injured right knee), many people are starting to believe that the preseason should be reduced to two games instead of four.

But the argument remains, however, that if you limit the preseason to only two games, can a NFL coaching staff truly evaluate the overall talent on its team, especially in the kicking and punting game.

Some say that problem can be solved by creating a NFL Developmental league or a NFL farm system were players can sharpen their skills and become NFL ready.

With that being said, the NFL has pondered simply limiting the preseason to two games while increasing its regular season to 18 games which allows them to keep its 20-game format.

The NFL owners, in fact, see an extended 18-game season as a way to sell or promote the game of football internationally by using the two extra games in order to travel overseas.

A new 18-game regular season, however, could be brutal on the bodies of most NFL players, who have become bigger, stronger, and faster, which may lead to more injuries with lesser pay for the players.

In addressing the players’ anxiety about contracting more injuries, the owners proposed adding an extra player on team’s rosters and including an extra bye week during the regular season.

With dealing with players’ salary concerns, the owners offered the trickledown theory of economics which means more games; more money.

But as the legendary Brooklyn-born MC Biggie Smalls once said, “Mo Money; Mo Problems.” Personally, I don’t have any problems with a four game preseason schedule because it allows NFL fans an exclusive opportunity to see players really working hard to make their dreams of playing football professionally come true….

Despite my love for preseason competition, Sirius Satellite Radio Host, Bomani Jones, however, totally disagrees with me, considering his hilarious comments that he made on ESPN’s 1st and 10 when he went face-to-face with the arrogant self-proclaimed know-it-all Skip Bayless.

“The most desperate collection of human beings on earth are the 22-men on the field in the fourth quarter of a first and second week pre-season game.”

Damn, that’s a cold-blooded comment, Bomani, especially when Denver Broncos’ first round QB Tim Tebow was playing in the 4th quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals.

But no matter how brutal Jones’ comments about pre-season players were, I still love preseason football.

Sure, there are a lot of fans, who might not care about the final scores at the end of these four preseason games, but most of those players on the field do.

That’s why I compare preseason to amateur night at the Apollo because every now and then you might witness a star being born right in front of your eyes.

Case in point — Victor Cruz, an undrafted wide receiver from the University of Massachusetts, became the first player since Terrell Owens in 1998 to have three touchdown receptions in his game-breaking performance Monday night against the Jets.

He finished with six catches for 145 yards and a one-hand grab that was simply spectacular. To all the critics, I know, Cruz did all of this against the Jets’ third and fourth string cornerbacks and not against Darrell Revis or Antonio Cromartie.

But his performance was outstanding, never the less. And just like the crowd that chanted in the 1977 movie the Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, I say, “Let them play…..Let them play….Let them play….”

In other words, keep the preseason at four games. Okay, maybe, two.

But don’t deny those guys an opportunity to prove that they can play in the league.