Cleveland Browns J.C. Tretter suggests veterans don’t need exhibition games
J.C. Tretter, the star center for the Cleveland Browns as well as the President of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) has put forward the suggestion that the NFL season could be started without the benefit of exhibition games.
Although Tretter’s suggestion is motivated by the need to cope with COVID-19, perhaps that could actually work in a “normal year,” and at the same time exhibition games can actually be made more meaningful instead of less meaningful.
The question is: do the fans need the regular starters to play exhibition games? If we don’t see the regular starters, does that me we are not going to buy the season ticket packages from the team? The owners and front offices would claim they need to get 10-20 snaps from the regulars each exhibition game to keep it going.
The Village Elliot believes that Tretter and the NFLPA have a just cause: preserving themselves for the regular season when it really matters. The problem is that the NFL preseason is too chaotic, with players coming in and out so that it is impossible to follow and root for your team. If those problems are fixed, then you could play exciting exhibition games and the veterans could sit them out.
The key would be to shift the focus to the young players making the team. The NFL, in turn, has to set it up so that they do not disperse the players all over hell and creation at the end of the exhibition season. Preseason is too much like Fantasy Football, in which all the general managers are pretty much forced to be wheeler-dealers.
The way they do it now is to cut 1,500 players the first week of September and re-sign about a third of them, with many players being cut and re-signed two and three times in the process. The effect is as if the 32 general managers are sharks swimming in the ocean when suddenly, a cruise ship capsizes, and 1,500 tourists are thrown in the water for the sharks to fight over.
The sharks love it, and gorge themselves eating the tourists, although finally about 500 of them find life rafts. But all the families are split up, and nobody knows who is who.
In 2019, there were well over a hundred players who wore the brown and orange, sometimes only for a few days before being released. That’s bad for the players, bad for the fans who are trying to follow the team, bad for the game, bad for business and it is just plain dumb. So why encourage this system?
If the NFL wants people to pay attention to preseason games, then there needs to be more continuity. It’s their game, so quit throwing everyone overboard at the same time. Just agree that at least the first game of the regular season will be played by the people who are brought into summer camp, the same ones that you are asking the fans to watch in the exhibition games. After that, the owners can go back to chaos if you desire.
But if the owners agree that the product is improved by keeping the summer camp players together for a while, then they may want to continue to find ways to encourage keeping players from summer camp on the regular-season roster or the practice squad roster.