SNIDER: NFLPA rightfully wants to skip preseason

Rick Snider
July 07, 2020 - 4:32 pm

The central theme of the smash hit play "Hamilton" is "I am not throwing away my shot." NFL players agree. They see no reason to play meaningless preseason games when every week is a risk and the regular season's fate is uncertain.
And, they're right.
The NFL was already planning to cut its four preseason games to two after teams report around July 28 following no offseason workouts or camps. But, the NFL Players Association instead wants no games and several weeks of conditioning and meetings before several weeks of practices leading to the openers.
Given the pandemic is threatening other sports from even re-starting, limiting exposure before regular-season games seems prudent. There will be no fans at preseason games, no overpriced beer and hot dogs to sell, and little national TV earnings, so camps are a break-even situation at most anyway.
The goal has always been to play the regular season where TV money pays for everything. Maybe some fans will attend games, but if not then so what? TV owns the NFL.
Why jeopardize the real goal for a short-term one? Sure, play will likely be sloppy with no preseason games. Then again, NFL coaches treated preseason games in recent years as a potential minefield of injuries and barely played starters, saying practices were mostly enough. Well, here's the chance to prove it.
Bubble players will miss a chance of a roster spot if unable to play in August. Yes, that stinks, but 2020 in general stinks. It's their share of the pandemic load. There's always next year to try out again. Meanwhile, some will make practice squads. Besides, expected positive COVID-19 tests will sideline a number of players, so some bubble players will eventually make rosters.
There seems a sense the NFL fears a play stoppage at some point because of the pandemic. There are Plans B and C on moving back the Super Bowl if needed. The plan seems to play as many games as possible before too many players test positive, so why waste any of these games on the preseason? If the magic number is 8 or 10 or 12 games before players are widely sick, don't waste two on games that don't count.
The days of summertime Junction Boys are long gone in the NFL. They barely hit in full pads anymore. More classes and walk-throughs have become standard, so the NFLPA simply wants to extend that system during this crisis. It seems reasonable.
It's going to be a weird season no matter what, so the NFL shouldn't throw away its shot at a long season.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks