You’re hurting for football. We get it. Really, we do. It’s August. It’s been six, long, excruciating months feeding off scraps—can Daniel Jones spell his own name? Where in the world is Ezekiel Elliot? Will Antonio Brown wear the Schutt AirMax V2 or the SuperFlow 10.1? You’re sunburned. You’re dehydrated. Your kids still haven’t gone back to school. The walls are crawling and you’re talking to the fridge. Your only escape is football, no matter how pointless, useless, pathetic, or boring. We feel for you. We empathize. We’ve been there. We are there. But after the colossal dumpster fire clusterf—k that was Thursday night, we have to say it one last time with feeling:
It’s time to cancel NFL Preseason...forever....starting now.
The Sportscenter chyrons on Friday morning told the grisly tale. Former MVP Cam Newton, making his first start since week 15 of last season due to shoulder surgery, went down on his first drive after being rolled up on by the Patriots' Kyle Van Noy. Prognosis? Sprained ankle. Regular season opener? In doubt. But don’t worry, when he does come back two weeks too early, we’re sure he’ll be fine because healthy ankles totally don’t matter for mobile quarterbacks lol.
And that was just the usual bullshit for the money-printing megalith that is the NFL. On the subject of the unusual bullshit, the Packers and Raiders trekked north to Winnipeg for the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Locker Room Dysfunction Bowl. The full-sized game was scheduled to be played at Investors Group Field, which is already home to its own damn professional football team and doesn’t need to be smuggling new ones in over the border but I digress. The field is said to have passed NFL inspection on Wednesday, but when the teams arrived on Thursday, they discovered turf-covered punji pits in the end zone where the CFL goalposts previously stood. The decision was made: “We shall play on an 80 yard field!” declared someone who probably puts orange juice in the microwave. And so they did...
In the end, the Packers sat 33 players, including Aaron Rodgers, who now won’t take a single snap this preseason. The Raiders didn’t even notice because they’re the Raiders.
The situation, partly because of the Packers involvement and partly because of the sheer, staggering level of incompetence on the part of America’s most powerful sports league, called to mind another preseason debacle in 2016, when a botched paint job turned the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium playing surface into a slab of lubed-up concrete. Eventually, after much hand-wringing and stern-faced consternation, the NFL was forced to cancel its most irrelevant game, sending a couple hundred Cheeseheads back to their dairy fart box of a home state empty handed.
Then there’s the Cam Newton thing, the first major player ever hurt during a preseason game. JUST KIDDING. Here a few highlights from the last three years alone:
Julian Edelman – Torn ACL
Jerrick McKinnon – Torn ACL
Derrius Guice – Torn ACL
Cam Newton – Sprained Ankle
Drew Lock - Sprained Thumb
Andrew Luck – Abducted by aliens
OH WHAT FUN!
Of course, this is all misplaced rage at this point (shocker, I know.) Rumor has it that the fulcrum of the next NFL CBA bargaining agreement, set to be renegotiated in the spring of 2021, is an 18-game actual season, which will very likely include the reduction or elimination of the preseason altogether. That means, however, we still have at least one more year of four entirely pointless opportunities for the only reason you watch your trash-hole team all season long to get his head turned around backward on a 27-yard field in a Siberian parking lot.
Plus, you know Football Guys™ like Freddie “Snitches Get Stitches” Kitchens are going to rally against this with every fiber of their cholesterol platelet-clogged beings. Hell, the President is going to weigh in on Twitter at any second, blaming [insert ethnicity here] for sullying our GREAT and UH, REALLY GREAT preseason football tradition. What about the fringe guys, they’ll say, appealing to the inner sucker in all of us. What about guys like Damon Sheey-Guiseppi, the Browns receiver who talked his way into a workout while sleeping on the street and ended up sealing his roster spot with this incredible punt return TD? What about Christian Wade, a former English rugby player with no football experience who has made the Bills look like the Greatest Show on Turf this summer? Erase preseason and you erase them and, more importantly, their stories, right?
Well, not exactly. Teams still have to register 53-man rosters, which will include guys like Sheey-Guiseppi and Wade due to the fact that there simply aren’t 1,696 Julio Joneses and Khalil Macks to go around. The only difference is their stories will play out in scrimmages, joint practices, and perhaps a feeder league, like the forthcoming XFL reboot, which seemingly only exists to be bought out by the NFL (and employ the world’s worst graphic designers.) In fact, the swift, merciless death of NFL preseason would only help the bubble guys, reducing the risk of these players spiral fracturing their leg live on Dade County's local CBS affiliate while Dave Wannstedt scrambles to look up their name. And if that doesn't quite convince you, consider this:
Eliminate NFL Preseason and you eliminate the need for me to sit here and cough up 1,000 words about make-believe football games on what was supposed to be a phone-it-in Friday morning in late August. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a win-win to me.