Say what you're going to say about the NFL – and I call those who occupy the league offices on Park Avenue a long-time mess of baboons throwing baboons – but give them the following: They know their audience. They show no respect for their audience, but they know us. Further evidence began on Thursday evening at 7:30. Pre-Season Game 3. The Great! The one who counts. The "dress rehearsal", if you like.
Hook, leash and jerk, they caught me again.
Do not get me wrong, I enjoy it and enjoy Brady's second-quarter touchdown ride. The highlight of this ride was a beautiful Brady-first-down-throw against Ryan Izzo among other things with fine throws. Seeing Sony Michel just before the mid-season while we saw it for the first time before the season was a pleasant relief, and who does not like a nasty James Develin touchdown jump? As for the defense of the patriots, they look, as I suspected, when I wrote this article on May 1
All the best.
However, the combination of injuries, potential injuries, and the fear of injury compared to moments of immediate gratification are not the same. The scale is certainly misaligned. In the first quarter of a preseason game you have to watch as a league star like Cam Newton comes off the pitch due to injury. I hope it's not serious, but these season's seasons just do not balance each other well enough.
Last year, Patriots fans got a glimpse of Isaiah Wynn's revered top election and saw him again last Saturday night. After recovering from an Achilles' tears, he needed a full year to rehabilitate himself, and he plays one of the team's most valuable positions. In the same preseason, the other first election of the Patriots, the already mentioned Sony Michel still had to be seen on the field to heal his own knee injuries.
I understand it's football and players get hurt. But the tension in August is, in a sense, as great as the excitement when the playoffs are highest. That's just not true. When I wrote that, patriot specialist Brandon King was carried away on a stretcher. I need a drink.
That's bad. The fact that one of the funniest months of the entire calendar year, August, is considered successful if you simply survive it is not good. To quote Tony Soprano, "It increases my overall stress level."
A sentence that we all know very well, "it's what it is," is undoubtedly true, but I do not have to like it. At the moment we have to deal with it.
Now for the better. It's great fun to watch the new guys, the new plans and the surprises at the camp like Jakobi Meyers. There are many rookies from the draft class of 2019 who are doing really well, like cornerback Joejuan Williams, Damien Harris, quarterback Jarrett Stidham, linebacker Chase Winovich and Punter Jake Bailey, just to name a few. If you're into fantasy football like me, August is the best month of the year, but pre-season games are agonizing.
That leads me to the ugly …
If you've ever had season tickets, then you know the deal. Preseason tickets are non-negotiable, must be purchased. I had Pats season tickets for 17 years and it was a long time ago and since then the same car jack. They buy no home game for eight games, but 10 games at full price. The wild success of the Patriots over the past 26 years has caused many subscribers to hold their breath and take their medications (including me for a very long time), but it's a total rip job. Paying the full price for a game that is irrelevant and probably causes more indigestion than the entire season with red meat that you will devour in the parking lot in the coming months is a scam. Do you need proof? Ask someone who has season tickets and ask them how easy it is to give away a preseason ticket. Newsflash is not.
So that's the good, bad, and ugly thing about the NFL preseason, now that negotiations are approaching for a new collective bargaining agreement, I offer some solutions.
First, reduce the preseason to two games. The only tangible way to reduce the risk of pre-season injuries and the concomitant obesity of the fans is to reduce the likelihood of this happening. Reduce the games and possibly reduce the injuries. In this era of common practices in the off-season, the actual preseason games are losing their importance anyway.
Secondly, offer your shareholders (season ticket holders) a preseason option. Make the base price for tickets for the preseason 50 percent. If you pay for full freight, you'll get extra weight for the Super Bowl lottery if your team makes it to the dance. In New England it is obviously a common occurrence to do the Super Bowl, so the incentive would probably work and in many cases the team would still come out as a whole. That way, your best customers will not be served at gunpoint for games they do not want or need, and there is an incentive for them to act.
Capitalism at its best.
Lastly, I apologize to all the lesser ones I've compared to the executives in the NFL offices. Sorry folks, throw to your heart's content.