Although no one in the NFL has yet figured out what, exactly, constitutes a catch, we can all agree on one thing, even if people in the league office won't say it out loud: Four pre-season games are way too many. Aside from the risk of catastrophic injuries to major players before the regular season even starts, the product on the field is sub-par. Except for the third game, which serves as a "dress rehearsal" for the regular season, starters play no more than a quarter or so. Since the NFL includes the price of the two pre-season home games in its season ticket packages, fans should be able to see high-quality competition. This is rarely the case.
Finally, at a time when player injuries are at an all-time high, making players compete in four extra games prior to the 16-game regular season seems insane. Yet because of the revenue these games generate for the league, it always seemed unlikely that the pre-season schedule would get shortened.
But according to ESPN, the NFL's Competition Committee recently discussed eliminating one pre-season game. Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has long advocated this, and Packers' owner Mike Murphy, who sits on the committee, called the entirely too long pre-season "one of the worst things we do."
Still, it's going to come down to money, as these things usually do. It could lead to an 18-game regular season, but at least with 18 games you'd get to see the starters play instead of fourth stringers fighting for a practice squad spot. No offense to those guys, who clearly work their butts off, but the long pre-season needs to go.
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