The NFL Preseason: A Necessary Evil


Alexzander (AJ) Braaten, Reporter

For years the NFLPA (AKA the national football league players association) has been up front about their displeasure with the preseason games, and as of this year they’ve finally gotten their wish, partially due to Covid and partially due to the prolonged insistence from players. But now with injuries spiking over the first few weeks we have to ask if the preseason is necessary for making better football and overall player safety.

The NFL preseason usually consists of 4 games for each of the 32 teams, they don’t have any effect on team record and are usually utilized as a way to get rookies and newer players some valuable playing time with teammates and their playbook. It is also useful for coaches because they need to get their roster down to 53 people by the end of preseason and with games to play, it is easier to see who will fit the teams play style, and which players aren’t cut out for the regular season. Most big name NFL players don’t like the preseason because the games are meaningless to them and have the possibility for injury because football is a dangerous sport. There have been some serious injuries to happen in these “somewhat meaningless” exhibition games such as quarterbacks Michael Vick and Tony Romo, who broke their fibula and back, respectively. Then there are some players who never played another NFL game ever again after a tragic preseason injury.

Notalbe NFL players with injuries
Notable NFL players with injuries

While all of these injuries are devastating and the games that they played in were ultimately meaningless, I’d argue that the preseason is still necessary for multiple different reasons. The main reason in my mind is that it gives the players a chance to warm-up and prepare themselves mentally and physically for the grueling season of hard fought football ahead of them. As of September 28 there were 205 players on the IR (Injury Reserve) list, which are already almost half of the 525 players put on IR throughout all the 2019 season, and we’re only 3 weeks in! Teams put players on IR when their injury is major enough that they’re concerned that the player might not come back before the end of the season. This action frees up a spot on the team’s roster while also still having the injured player on the team. You can never plan an injury but you can definitely prevent it, but this season the main prevention of injuries early in the season was tossed aside by the NFLPA.

The preseason is like a routine of stretches before going on a long run; it helps prevent any unexpected injuries when you eventually do start running. There were still the training camps and practices that led up to the first weeks of games, but without that actual in-game experience that the preseason gives a lot of players’ bodies were unprepared. 26 of those 205 injuries were to the ACL, it is the most common of the major injuries this season with approximately 40 happening over the entirety of last season. The ligaments in these players’ knees were unprepared for the wear and tear that football brings, and with the combination of less practice due to Covid and the lack of a preseason, it snapped. If NFL players want to play a full season then they should really consider bringing back the preseason, or some alternative that helps prevent and avoid these painful and tragic injuries.