We’re still a few weeks away from the start of regular-season battles on the NFL gridiron, but there’s no offseason when it comes to debate amongst fans. This summer, we launched a new series here at PFR known as the Community Tailgate. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every weekday, we’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.
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As is often the case during the NFL preseason, we’ve seen a handful of key players go down with major injuries this summer. Most notably, star wide receivers Jordy Nelson of the Packers and Kelvin Benjamin of the Panthers suffered season-ending ACL tears, devastating blows for their teams and fantasy football owners alike. While Benjamin’s injury happened in a practice, Nelson’s occurred in a game, restarting an annual debate about the value of the preseason, with Aaron Rodgers among those weighing in.
“It’s difficult to lose a guy like that in a meaningless game. This game doesn’t mean anything,” Rodgers said in a postgame news conference, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Asked if he felt the preseason schedule should be reduced from four games to a lesser number, the reigning MVP replied, “I think a lot of players around the league probably do. At least cut it down, maybe, to a couple.”
Another former MVP, Adrian Peterson, expressed a similar sentiment today, pointing to all the players who have torn ACLs so far this preseason and suggesting teams should just play three games, rather than four (Twitter links via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press).
Of course, for players like Rodgers and Peterson, whose roster spots are assured this year and – most likely – for as long as they want to keep playing, the preseason is less significant. For players fighting for the 52nd or 53rd spot on the their respective teams’ rosters, those games are a little more crucial. There are a number of players around the NFL who may have never received their shot on a roster if not for those extra couple preseason contests.
Trimming the number of preseason games from four to two also wouldn’t reduce the risk of injuries in those games — it would simply cut back on the total number of preseason injuries. And you could make the case that less preparation before the season would result in more injuries once the real games gets underway.
In a column today for Sports on Earth, Ross Tucker argues that if teams want to reduce the risk of preseason injuries to star players, they should simply keep those stars off the field during the so-called “meaningless” games. In Tucker’s view, the NFL isn’t likely to play any fewer preseason games anytime soon, since getting an extra two home games for each franchise is a significant source of revenue around the league.
What do you think? Is the preseason schedule a problem that needs to be fixed? If so, how would you propose fixing it? Does it make sense for the NFLPA to trade a reduction in preseason games for an increase in regular season games? Or is there another solution that might make more sense? Weigh in below in the comment section with your thoughts!