“Football is back,” everyone gushed Thursday night. “The first points of the NFL season,” Mike Tirico said after Daniel Carlson hit a 55-yard field goal, without a mention that it’s the NFL preseason.
“Nothing beats football on the screen,” tweeted Michael Lombardi, who was an executive with four NFL teams. “Nothing.”
Sorry Mike, I’m a big fan of your work, but I’m never going to stop campaigning for us to differentiate football. There’s a difference from when winning matters and the starters play to what we saw when the Raiders beat the Jaguars 27-11 in Canton, Ohio — which is the most meaningless of 49 meaningless preseason games.
Technically it’s football, sure. There was a kickoff and downs and officials blowing a call right out of the gate and everything.
But please can we stop celebrating the NFL preseason in this fashion?
All it does is license the NFL to charge real ticket prices and real concession prices and real parking prices for matchups like Jarrett Stidham against Jake Luton.
Then, we wait to see if Melissa Stark talks to Derek Carr and Trevor Lawrence about the issues of the day and what Las Vegas and Jacksonville will actually look like when, you know, football of consequence stars on Sept. 8
Sure, some spots will be won and some decisions will be made as a result of preseason games. But these games are less important than they’ve ever been. Less important, in many cases, than joint practices held all over the country for a couple days before these games.
Fewer starters will play in them than ever before, which means more guys who won’t ever play in the league will populate second halves. Last year, the league was finally able to flip one NFL preseason game into a regular season one.
“The Raiders offense looks just fine,” Tirico told us after a Vegas touchdown early in the second quarter. Fine without Carr, Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller.
At least five of the 11 Jaguars who will be on field with the starting defense on September 11 in Houston weren’t out there while the Raiders were looking fine, but we quickly get to a place where we forget that and think it’s all real.
And while I am not forecasting big things for Jacksonville, when it opens the season it will have a game plan and an actual scheme designed to slow the Texans, right?
I love football. But I’m not in the column where I crave it so much that this weak dosage somehow medicates me and makes me feel like I am back on the stuff.
It actually makes me miss it a bit more, because it’s so close. The players are out there and coaches are in headsets. They could so easily put the good players on the field and test out some stuff.
I understand why they don’t.
But I’m guessing you don’t like watered down cocktails or beer, so I am confused as to why diluted football has such a hold on you.
We saw Travon Walker, the No. 1 pick. That was nice. It was well short of a holiday.
Are you big on JV games (if your son is not playing in them)? I’m a varsity guy. I’ll catch a bit of the JV, enough to know that Josh Jacobs started at running back for the Raiders in a really bad sign for him.
The TV numbers for big NFL games; the playoffs and the Super Bowl serve as the best evidence of the power of the league. But what about the anticipation and excitement for the Hall of Fame game, where the top objective of both teams is to get no one hurt?
America’s appetite for bad NFL preseason games is pretty impressive too.
“Let’s just state the obvious,” Cris Collinsworth said with 11:00 on the clock in the second quarter and Vegas up a whopping 13-0. “The Raiders look pretty good!”
And with that, it was time to fish the remote out of the cushions and see what else was on.