Roger Goodell is not finished kicking tires on trimming down the number of NFL preseason games, and possibly adding to the current 16-game regular season schedule. Goodell has mentioned the possibility of a shortened preseason several times within the past few years, and on Friday NFL.com reported the topic being brought to the forefront of discussion with Goodell yet again.
"The four preseason games are an issue for us," Goodell said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "One, you have a question whether we really need it to put on the best quality product. Two, you have an issue of how our fans are reacting to it, and they're not reacting positively. It's not the kind of standard that the NFL is used to producing."
Preseason has never been viewed as a “sell out” spectacle. Preseason is, of course, a series of exhibition games. If fan reaction is a focal point of the NFL commissioner, it can’t help that the majority of teams sell their preseason tickets at a cost not much different from regular season prices.
The real question is whether or not the loss of several preseason games would hinder opportunities for coaches and especially players. Even the 4th and final week of preseason provides opportunities for players on the fringe of maintaining a job with their NFL franchise. One could argue that training camp could be used to train starters and only a few preseason games could be used for fringe players. Less preseason games could also eliminate a portion of risk for offseason injuries, particularly to starters – a concern that has largely been at the forefront of Goodell’s priorities. However, preseason does also offer more opportunity for contact football, an experience largely reduced during the offseason. Either way, it’s hard to imagine the NFLPA supporting a move that could drastically reduce opportunities for players that are fighting for a roster spot during the offseason.