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Roger Goodell rightly wants to reduce number of boring NFL preseason games

August 08,2017 07:17

The greatest financial ripoffs in sports: Any Knicks game from November through April, NFL PSLs, $100 pay-per-view fights, Legends seats at Yankee Stadium and anything more than $5 for an NFL preseason game not accompanied by a Springsteen concert ...and more »

The greatest financial ripoffs in sports: Any Knicks game from November through April, NFL PSLs, $100 pay-per-view fights, Legends seats at Yankee Stadium and anything more than $5 for an NFL preseason game not accompanied by a Springsteen concert.
Well, at least Roger Goodell seems to realize there’s little redeeming value to playing four preseason games. Not for the fans, not for the players, not for the coaches. He would like to cut the number to three and eventually down to two.
Even though 26 teams, including the Giants and Jets, have reduced pricing for their preseason games, it’s still not money well spent for the fans.
The Giants preseason pricing is 50% off their regular season tickets. The Jets also have variable pricing — one price for three top tier home games, one price for the five other home games and the lowest of their prices is for the dreadful preseason games.
It took a long time and a lot of complaining by the fans, but at least now any fan who wants to come to see the preseason games doesn’t have to pay regular season prices for an inferior show.
“I think that’s a good change and positive change,” Goodell said. “I still believe we don’t need four preseason games.”
The only preseason football worth watching is the first half of the third game of the summer when the starters play. For local fans, that’s always the Giants vs. the Jets.
If the starters play in the first preseason games, it’s usually just two series. Last year, Ben McAdoo didn’t play Eli Manning or Odell Beckham Jr. at all in the opener against the Dolphins.

Superstars like Eli Manning hardly see any time in preseason contests.
(Pat Leonard / New York Daily News)
Although McAdoo said Monday the coaches have not yet had their deployment of personnel meeting for the Giants first practice game Friday night against the Steelers, there’s probably a better chance of Manning calling the plays on the sidelines than in the huddle.
Manning played four series in the second game last year in Buffalo, he played the entire first half and the first series of the third quarter against the Jets and didn’t play in the final game against the Patriots.
The quality of the preseason games stink. Except for the hard core fans, like the legendary Ira from Staten Island, who even travels to Jets road preseason games, these games are unwatchable. And there’s too many of them.
“When I go around to fans, that’s maybe the No. 1 thing I hear,” Goodell said at a Giants fans forum for season-ticket holders Monday at MetLife Stadium. “I always believe the NFL should do things to the highest possible standards. Preseason games are not that.”
Goodell told Jets season ticket holders last week that cutting the preseason to three games would not have to be in conjunction with an increase of the regular season from 16 games to 17 games. That’s a good thing because when Goodell was pushing for a switch to an 18-game season a few years ago, it was met with a thumbs-down by the players and the NFL Players Association.
The current collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2020 season. Any change in the season structure would have to be the result of an agreement with the NFLPA. “Just a simple reduction of preseason games we may be able to do alone. I would have to check on that,” Goodell said. “But we agreed collectively that any change in the structure, we would look at.”
The NFL is an injury sport. A collision sport. There are already too many players going down. That’s why coaches are so hesitant to play starters in the preseason when games don’t count. The salary cap has something to do with that also. It’s harder to replace quality players in a trade. The race to the Super Bowl is a game of attrition. Adding to the regular season would provide one more game for injuries before the playoffs.

Odell Beckham Jr. will likely spend almost the entirety of the preseason on the sidelines to avoid injury.
(Julio Cortez/AP)
I can’t see the union agreeing to adding another game unless there is tremendous financial incentive, and even then, the union and its executive committee would be selling out the work force if they made them suit up for a 17th game.
At one point, I thought going to 18 games made sense, but no more. Injuries are out of control.
Cutting the preseason by one or two games per team would reduce the revenue that goes into calculating the salary cap. But there will be other ways for the NFL to make it up. How long before they will be selling sponsorship logos on the game jerseys?
One other issue: The players who benefit the most from the preseason games are the rookies and the fringe players trying to make the team. They benefit from the reps and putting their performance on tape for other teams to see,
“There’s value to the games in building a team, evaluating your team, evaluating your players,” Goodell said. “But there’s other ways of doing that. I believe we could do that with three preseason games and in years we could eventually get to two. Almost every coach has agreed we could get done what we need to get done in three games.”
So, there’s really only one reason it will be a struggle to get done: Nothing ever comes easy between Goodell and union boss DeMaurice Smith.
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