Have you ever heard of Sage Rosenfels? How about Chris Redman? If you have then congratulations, you’re either a die-hard Houston Texans or Atlanta Falcons fan. Most of you haven’t, however, because you only see those guys play in the National Football League preseason.
If you’re the kind of fan who just turns up your nose at the word “preseason,” you’re like most people. A survey done by the National Football League’s public relations department showed that of the over 1.5 million people who took the survey on the league’s website, only 20 percent said they regularly watch preseason football.
McNicholas High School head football coach Mike Orlando says he doesn’t make it a point to watch his favorite team the Pittsburgh Steelers in the preseason because “It’s not really the quality that you’re used to watching out of professional players.” However, there is one stat that leaves many flabbergasted: week two of this year’s preseason drew a higher television rating than the Cotton Bowl that happened seven months earlier. Orlando thinks this happened because, “The whole bowl thing has gotten out of control. It’s become inflated… it’s hard to keep track of all the bowls.”
One reason for people disliking the preseason so much is that they want to see Peyton Manning and Michael Vick, not Curtis Painter and Tyler Thigpen. It’s simple: fans watch their favorite team for the stars, not the scrubs. Many people think they get snubbed because they only see a quarter or two from their favorite players. This is in part because of a strategy used by all 32 teams; stars and veterans play a set number of plays then they don’t see the field again.
If he were a head coach, Orlando said that he would play his starters “2-3 series at best” and “not in the last game at all.” For instance, in a week three matchup between the New York Giants and New York Jets, Giants quarterback Eli Manning played for 9 plays. His counterpart Mark Sanchez played four plays and left with “muscle soreness.” Orlando’s stance on Sanchez’s actions is “I don’t have a problem with it. I wouldn’t do it myself, but I don’t have a problem with a player doing something like that.”
Another reason people don’t like the preseason is that they think coaches are too protective with their stars. However, Orlando disagrees. “I don’t think so. Their livelihood is on the line. As a player, you are just a product, so if you get hurt, it not only affects you, it affects your entire family.” Orlando also treats his own high school players the same way in the preseason because he says that scrimmages “just set you up for injuries.” But, the coaches have a strategy for that. Most of those stars don’t play until week three, but that happens for good reason. The reasoning behind that is if a starter suffers an injury worse than “muscle soreness,” they still have two weeks to recover before the season opener.
Many people have the belief that there is no direct correlation between preseason and regular season success. They have some valid reasoning to back that up:
- Bill Belicheck, a four time Super Bowl champion is 2 games above .500 in the preseason on his career.
- The 2008 Detroit Lions were 4-0 in the preseason, but went 0-16 the following regular season.
- No division winners from 2010 had winning records in the preseason.
- Preseason hockey just came back after being done away with after 2004-2005 with big crowds at every game.
So, if you see your favorite NFL team on TV playing a preseason game, you might want to just keep surfing the channels, because the game will be boring at best.