Will Winnipeg fiasco help end NFL exhibition games?
A ridiculous thing happened to the NFL on Thursday night. Because of that, maybe a great thing can happen to the NFL.
Maybe the NFL is nearing to ending the absurdity that is the NFL exhibition season.
Thursday night in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Raiders-Packers exhibition was reduced to an 80-yard field, due to holes in the IG Field end zones, where goal posts for the Canadian Football League games are usually stationed. The CFL plays on longer fields.
Until 20 minutes before kickoff Thursday night, NFL officials tried to get the playing field ready. But eventually, officials from the league and both teams deemed the field unsafe.
Which shines a bright line on the lack of attention to the NFL preseason, by everyone involved.
Every team long ago quit caring about the games themselves, rarely playing anyone of importance and using the exhibitions as scrimmages for players far down the depth chart. But to take the NFL to a foreign country and not even having a safe field available shows the apathy that has beset the entire exhibition season.
The Packers and Raiders literally played on an 80-yard field, like it was an Oklahoma high school eight-man game.
Most NFL personnel favor reducing the preseason schedule to two games, but more would vote for zero rather than four. They have become nothing but danger zones for player injury.
The Raiders didn’t even bring 24 players to the game, leaving most vital members of their roster back home. The Packers sat 33 players, though it was unclear if that was because of the field.
"It had a backyard-footballish feel to it,” Raider fullback Keith Smith said after scoring a touchdown. He didn’t necessarily mean that as a putdown.
But I do. The whole NFL exhibition season has become Mickey Mouse. It’s not an endeavor befitting the league. Preseason games should be scrapped. They are worthless even when played on a 100-yard field.