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There was so little of it during the Hall of Fame game between the Cowboys and Dolphins this year that NBC’s Cris Collinsworth thought nothing of abandoning his duties to break down a You Tube video of Cowboys fourth-string quarterback Alex Tanney doing trick shots while Al Michaels, Tony Dungy and the nation looked on like zombies.
The highlight of last Sunday night’s clash between the Colts and Giants was FOX’s Pam Oliver getting drilled in the face by an errant football during warm-ups. The only place where a preseason game gets complete attention is at NFL headquarters, because the folks there last year.
The preseason might quench the thirst for football, but the calories are all empty.
And yet fans today don’t know how good they’ve got it.
An NFL preseason football game is not a traditional football product.
It is the New Coke of football products, an adulterated version that’s not different enough from the original to be anything other than pointless.
Gil Brandt, then the Cowboys’ chief talent scout, was still casing the joint when the referee arrived and inquired about the officials’ dressing room.
That wouldn’t be so bad if preseason games didn’t catch the nation at a time when it is most desperate to satisfy its football jones. The NHL keeps it short, just two weeks, and this year will play 13 exhibition games in non-NHL venues.
Other pro sports know how to stage a compelling exhibition. Why can’t the most popular sport in America—which has turned paint-drying affairs such as the combine and the draft into must-see events—get its preseason right?
When it began in 1920, all 14 teams were clustered in Northern industrial towns, and all of the games were exhibitions.
Teams arranged their own meetings with rivals inside and outside the league, and every contest counted in the standings.