On Thursday, Chicago's sports Twitterverse was aflutter with worry. The Bears were losing their preseason opener in ugly fashion, gaining only 132 total yards in a 31-3 loss to Denver. J'Marcus Webb played most of the game; Jay Cutler played none of it. We collectively acted like the Bears instantly lost all 16 regular-season games. In August.
I watched one play of that game, and that was on accident. Instead, I flipped between a baseball game involving a team 20 games out of first place and Olympic triple jumping. Qualifying rounds, not medals. And I don't regret a second of my choices, because preseason NFL football is the single dumbest thing in American sports. Dumber than the Pro Bowl. Dumber than the designated hitter. Dumber than the Jazz being in Utah, where music is illegal.
The 2008 Detroit Lions went 4-0 in the preseason. They went 0-16 in the regs. I could just drop the mic right there.
Playing professional football carries risk. And entertaining football requires full effort from all players and coaches. Preseason football is not football. It contains football-ish material. It's footballesque, but not quite football. The pervasive fear of injuries sustained during a meaningless game drives the entire concept even deeper into the meaningless abyss, rendering every single play of preseason football as relevant as Lark Voorhees is to today's teens.
So how many preseason games should there be? Commissioner Quigley wants none, but he'll compromise with one. One single, stupid, meaningless preseason game per team. Maybe make the Hall of Fame Game participants play two, fine. Every single thing an NFL team "needs to work on" in a preseason game can be done on the practice field. Need to simulate crowd noise? Buy some giant speakers, press play on some Dragonforce, enjoy.
All those players fighting for roster spots can do that fighting in Bourbonnais, away from TV cameras and our precious sports attention spans. Besides, we haven't even had our fantasy drafts yet. No stats? No thank you.
Alex Quigley can be heard on WGN Radio 720.