The 2015 preseason is in the books. Unfortunately so are a couple star players’ promising season prospects – and those who drafted them in premature fantasy drafts. Regardless of the meaning of the games, the injuries suffered by top-end players such as Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson and Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin showed us that football is a physical sport and takes its toll. With that being said, however, the preseason is an integral part of the NFL’s annual process, much like the draft, the playoffs, the Super Bowl and, of course, the Pro Bowl (just kidding).
The NFL is about generating revenue by providing a quality product on the field. While the preseason isn’t as statistically as important as the regular season in reaching the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl, it helps coaches find the best talent available in their squads and find gems that may have otherwise been hidden at previous levels of competition. Without the preseason, there would only be training camp prior to roster cuts. Using this system, coaches would give higher draft picks and better prospects more time on the practice field, as they are viewed as having more potential. A lackluster series of repetitions in camp could have left undrafted and low-round draft picks such as Cameron Wake, Arian Foster, Antonio Gates and Tom Brady on the couch at home. Imagine it: No Giselle-Tom. No Patriots-Brady legacy. No Deflategate. Oh God, what would we have done?
The development of the on-field product is important, but ticket sales show there isn’t much drop-off in fan interest from preseason to the regular season. Part of it may just be fans are simply excited to get back to football, but there’s also a newfound excitement every year when the preseason rolls around. There’s just something about a new crop of talent, hope and excitement from every fan base. The preseason also provides more football shown on more days of the week with more commentators, which is a refreshing change of pace from the voices inevitably heard throughout the season.
The main complaint coming from the public and the players about the preseason is key contributing players are getting injured in these seemingly “meaningless” games. Some of the league’s top players, including Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, claim they would just as ready without a preseason than with it. Here’s an idea: Don’t play. Don’t put yourself at risk.