Practice makes perfect when it comes to the NFL

Preseason standings don't count, but the casualties do
08/26/2013 3:18 PM ET
By Doug Williams

The risk of injuries is too severe in NFL preseason games.(AP)
Stevie Brown, Kevin Kolb, and Dustin Keller.

Those are the names of three football players who probably won't see a second of time on the field this season because of injuries endured during the meaningless stretch of four games that the NFL calls the preseason.

The Giants lose a starting safety to a torn ACL -- a guy who was in a contract year and finally comfortable in a defensive system. He was poised to have a big year, and now he will not.

The Bills lose a starting quarterback to a possible career-ending concussion -- and the importance and severity of that injury cannot be understated.

The Dolphins lose a star tight end -- a guy who many thought would lead the team in receptions at the end of the season.

All three of these guys had their seasons end abruptly in games that have zero meaning or significance.

I understand that the preseason is a time where rookies and newly acquired players can get reps with their new team against real opponents. But can you name any more positives of the NFL preseason? I dare you.

Let's look at both New York teams just as an example. For the Giants, the preseason has accomplished almost nothing positive whatsoever. They have had a few positive offensive plays, but their performance for the most part has been abysmal. They have lost several players to injury including star wide receiver Victor Cruz, and their quarterback Eli Manning has played like Mark Sanchez. Think they're feeling confident and ready for the season?

Luckily the Jets have had a very good preseason! Everything has gone right and if the season were to start tomorrow, they would be poised and ready without distraction.

Just kidding. In reality, the Jets preseason has only garnered way too much media attention to a meaningless quarterback controversy while also making it all but certain that their head coach will be fired within months. Think they're feeling confident and ready for the season?

In fact, you could argue that both teams were actually feeling much more confident BEFORE these games started.

The preseason is too long because players have way too many opportunities to get hurt, but it's too short because most teams don't even feel confident by the time it's over. So what's the point? The sole intention of football is to physically attack another group of men who are trying to do the exact same thing to you. It is at the height of stupidity to think that "practicing" that at full speed in meaningless games is a smart idea.

I couldn't even WATCH the Jets-Giants game on Saturday night because I got angry every time David Wilson ran the ball or Hakeem Nicks caught it. Get.Them.Off.The.Field. They know how to play, it's not their first season in the offense, just let them be rusty in the first quarter of Week 1.

Practice makes perfect, and I get that, so here is my proposition: have regular training camps and practices. If injuries happen there, then so be it. Cancel the preseason and start the regular season with all teams in the same position. Marginally unprepared with the X's and O's but in shape from camp. Let the teams work out the kinks in games that matter. If players get hurt, at least they got hurt trying their best to help their team win. Stadiums will be sold out and players will have yet another reason to be highly motivated.

Football is different than baseball, hockey, or basketball. Obviously injuries are a big part of all three of those sports, but football is a whole different animal. Do we have practice heavyweight fights? Does NASCAR have a practice Daytona 500? No, because those sports along with football are too dangerous and have too much on the line to sacrifice.

I would put Kevin Kolb's career in that "too much on the line to sacrifice" category.

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