There’s nothing like it… the start of the new NFL season. You mindlessly watch the seemingly unending games that the NBA and the MLB offer during the offseason, until finally the NFL is back and your mind can reawaken. But then you realize that you must still endure the Preseason… NFL Preseason…You feel…exhilaration? No. Anticipation? No. You feel disappointment. You know, the same way you felt when your big brother broke into your parent’s room that night before Christmas long ago, and couldn’t wait to tell you every present you’d be receiving the next day. The exhilaration and the anticipation of Christmas turned to disappointment because you had already gotten a sneak peek.
NFL Preseason brings that same gut-wrenching feeling of disappointment; it has turned into a month-long marathon of sneak peeks. Fans both in stadiums and at home alike repeatedly come to the same conclusion as they watch – they don’t want to watch, but it still is the NFL, so they do watch. Just as the joy was sucked out of opening your Christmas presents after you already knew what they were, and yet you still opened them. They love the intensity and drama that is the NFL, but these Preseason games are anything but. They’re a jumble of miscellaneous plays that lack the passion fans find irresistible in the real season.
True, the first quarter is the real NFL. But then fans must endure an inferior product on the field for the final three quarters of the game. If fans could truly be fooled into ecstasy as long as they were watching anything that resembled football, Vince McMahon’s “brilliant” creation of the XFL would still be going strong in the spring. If fans could be fooled, “He Hate Me” might have taken over for Peyton Manning in all those DirecTV commercials, and become one of the most recognizable, and richest, athletes in the world. If fans could be fooled, the start up UFL’s ratings would rival that of the NFL this October.
No, fans can’t be fooled, so why do they buy Preseason tickets for the same price as the real season? Answer: if they really want season tickets, it’s a necessary evil the fan has to put up with.
In addition to all of this, some stars, like LaDainian Tomlinson, Terrell Owens and Carson Palmer, don’t even play at all in the Preseason. Palmer even jokingly said on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” that the medical staff was worrying him more than the actual injury itself. He and the fans know that if this was the real season, Palmer would be playing.
On the flip side, have you ever gotten a Christmas present that you needed to be put together, just to find out that you couldn’t enjoy it when you wanted to. That’s kind of how Chief fans feel about Matt Cassel’s injury. They were filled with joy to find out they finally had a good quarterback, and now because of a meaningless preseason game, the fans may not be able to enjoy him the first game of the regular season due to his MCL sprain.
Just look at the Nielsen ratings and you’ll find that the Chargers vs. the Falcons Friday night only drew a 1.7 rating, a matchup of two division winners. Both teams are being talked about as legitimate Superbowl contenders and this was the third Preseason game – a game that’s kind of supposed to matter. Just ask Dennis Green, whose infamous rant was primarily based on the fact that his team played and defeated the Bears in the third game of the Preseason that year.
And what about those poor fans in Tampa Bay who had to deal with a 45-minute weather delay during a Preseason game? They’re already dealing with a crisis at the quarterback position. Do they go with the injury prone Byron Leftwich, who is most remembered for being carried down the field by his linemen in his Marshall days because he had broken his left tibia?
Or how about career backup Luke McCown, who has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in his brief career? How about that 6’6” Josh Freeman kid who they traded up to get in the draft? Whatever first-year Head Coach Raheem Morris decides, the point is all these fans went to a Preseason game in the hopes of being the first to know the possible answer to this tormenting question.
They were being good soldiers, supporting their team in a meaningless game where they were probably charged $20 for parking, at least $10 for a beer, and $6 for a hot dog.
Then, a deafening thunder cracks, the sky illuminates with lightning, the game is postponed. Parents scramble to find an overhang somewhere, anywhere to keep their children safe and dry. And as they stood huddled together, wet and tired, they hoped that the announcer would declare the game canceled. But it was not. The Bucs retook the rain drenched field, and that’s when fans noticed… Byron Leftwich had wised up and disappeared during the delay. And that’s when they wondered why they hadn’t gone to see the Rays instead… oh that’s right, they were out of town.
As Week Three in the Preseason comes to an end, the true fans have shown that they are not fools. They have actually learned three important facts. First, the Preseason is made up of four glorified scrimmages that become unwatchable after the first half, but it’s the only football in town. Second, the 60-yard HD scoreboard in Dallas has some kinks, but exceeds the NFL’s height requirement. Third, after an embarrassing 45-7 loss, that included the Saints fourth and fifth-string runners scampering for 178 yards on the ground against the Raiders first-string defenders, the Raiders are still the Raiders no matter if it’s Preseason or not…
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