For many fans, the NFL preseason is akin to an oasis in a barren dessert. For the die hards and fanatics it is the first sip of football after the long drought of the off season. And while many disregard off season football because it “doesn’t count”, these exhibition games serve a number of key purposes in the football universe.
First and foremost, the preseason is essential for the players to get re- acclimatized to the rigors of full contact football. It’s one thing lifting in the off season, but once you put the pads on all bets are off. This rings especially true for rookies. There is a big difference between getting hit in college, and getting hit in the pros. The game is faster and harder. Preseason games enable new players to get used to the physical demands of professional football. On the flip side, preseason is unfortunately a time when rookies are more prone to getting injured. Just this week, promising 1st year running back Derrius Guice tore his ACL. Guice was Leonard Fournette’s back up at LSU and is considered to be even better than his former teammate . Unfortunately, we probably won’t find out this season.
The preseason equally essential for coaches and team management as it is for players. The slate of ‘friendly’ games allows teams to evaluate their roster in a live action environment. Coaches can only learn so much about the players during practice and it often takes a couple of full games to fully find out what their rookies and new players are capable of and how they fit into the teams plans. The first few weeks of the football year are effectively a big,physical violent audition where close to 100 athletes compete to get a spot on the teams roster. This competitiveness often leads to sparks flying in practice, which serves to add some excitement and entertainment to the preseason.
And finally, despite popular belief, the preseason is designed for you – the fan. Let’s be real, there’s no such thing as too much football. The NFL knows that by summers end we’re literally starving for football. The preseason gives us all an extra four opportunities to watch our favourite team in action. But the League’ motives behind the preseason are far from altruistic. More games means more money. So while the fans benefit from extra football, the league also benefits from extra revenue.
So why does the preseason exist? Players get to play. Coaches get to coach. Fans get to fan and the league gets paid. That’s the point of the preseason.