The NFL pre-season

Matthew Lefebvre

The most physically grueling sport without question has to be football. NFL football is full contact full speed all the time whether it be mini-camp, practice, pre-season, or regular season. That’s why it is hard to understand why the NFL preseason is four games long with some teams playing five games. The more games the teams play the more money the owners make, and that’s the name of the game. The NFL is a business before anything. But that’s where the discrepancy comes in. If it’s so important to make money why play so many preseason games and risk hurting your stars, the guys who bring the money in for you.

The most notable injury of the preseason has to be Atlanta’s Michael Vick. Vick broke his right leg rolling out of the pocket against Minnesota. The injury, although it doesn’t require surgery, will keep him out for at least six games. The most explosive and unpredictable quarterback since the emergence of Randal Cunningham was the leagues most exciting player last season living up to the hype which made him the #1 pick in the NFL draft three years ago. Vick is the most popular player in the game today, this being evident because his jersey is the number one selling jersey on the market. Along with Vick, many other notable players have been hit with the injury bug in this preseason.

The blow that Atlanta feels in losing its star quarterback is the same pain that the New York Jets feel about losing their starting quarterback Chad Pennington. Pennington suffered a broken wrist when he was tackled rolling out of the pocket. He will be out at least 12 weeks and some sources are saying he won’t play this season. This opens the door for Vinny Testaverde who was the starter at the beginning of last season until Pennington was given the job. Testaverde who hasn’t taken a snap in a regular season game since 2002 is a big question mark. The Jets are scrambling to strengthen their depth chart through the acquisitions of Jamie Martin and Brooks Bollinger.

Detroit Lions starting running back and perennial 1,000 yard rusher

James Stewart separated his shoulder in the final preseason game and is out for the season. Although this blow isn’t as substantial because of off season running back acquisitions of Shawn Bryson and Olandis Gary from the Buffalo Bills and the selection of Artose Pinner from Kentucky, the Lions still lose an important veteran in their backfield.

Philadelphia Eagles’ Wide Receiver James Thrash was feared to be paralyzed after a hit that resulted in him landing on his head and neck. An MRI and x-rays came back negative for a broken neck and he now has regained feeling in his extremities.

Total, there are 27 players who will miss the entire season because of injuries they sustained in the preseason. More than half of all the players who have reported serious injuries will miss multiple regular season games. The Miami Dolphins, thought to be one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl this year, have the most serious injuries thanks to the preseason, totaling in nine injured players. On the flip side, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills have no significant injuries to hinder their advance through the regular season to the playoffs.

The NFL is hurting itself by prolonging a preseason that no one watches and doesn’t matter to anyone but the coaches. In past years players have criticized the fact that the preseason is too long.

If the NFL wants teams to play 20-21 games per year then the season should be lengthened from 16 games to 18, leaving two preseason games.