NFL Preseason: Transform it into Reality TV

Shawn Krest@KrestDukeTBAContributor IMay 14, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 25:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell introduces Detroit Lions #1 draft pick Matthew Stafford at Radio City Music Hall for the 2009 NFL Draft on April 25, 2009 in New York City  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Dear Commissioner Goodell,

Now that the NFL draft is over and mini-camps have begun, it’s only a matter of time before the start of the NFL’s most beloved summer tradition: Whining about the preseason.

“It’s too long,” say fans who just watched a six hour pregame show for the NFL draft in its entirety. 

“The stars never play.  These are all players of whom we’ve never heard,” say people who studied the Southern Illinois defensive backs. 

“Our favorite players might get hurt,” say folks who just complained that the stars never play. 

Before you add that seventeenth game or look into other ways of reducing the number of preseason games, wait just a second.  Believe it or not, dictating league policy based on feedback from sports radio callers may not be the best strategy. 

A better idea is to let the online columnists weigh in.  And I think that I may have stumbled onto a way to not just fix the preseason, but to give it the same cult following that surrounds the draft.

Here’s the plan: The preseason remains at four games. 

At the end of every quarter of each game, both teams hold a brief ceremony where the coaches announce two players that have made the team's 53-man roster.  Those players no longer need to participate in preseason games (though they may choose to dress and be available in case of injuries).  In addition, both teams announce the name of one player that has been cut.  A brief highlight package is played summarizing his time with the team. 

This would add eight people to the final roster each week, and four players would be cut.  In order to have a full roster for the final preseason game, the announcements could all be postponed until game's end. 

HBO’s Hard Knocks meets American Idol.  Instead of having Lady Gaga or Katy Perry lip synch between cuts, we get 15 minutes of football.

Just imagine the scene:  The Colts host the Vikings on Aug. 14.  At the end of the first quarter, the lights lower and loud bass begins to thump over the loudspeakers.   Then a voice comes over the P.A., saying,  “The Indianapolis Colts would like to announce that the following player has made the team’s final roster.  From the University of Tennessee, No. 18, Peyton Manning!” 

Then individual spotlights train on a lineup of kids from places like Northwestern State.  We all cared so much about them when we were doing our mock drafts back in April.  With a simple change to the preseason format, we care again.  

Who will get cut this week?  Who will the team add to the roster?  From TV talking heads to sports radio jocks, the debate will rage.  A waste of fan time and money suddenly becomes must-see television. 

While coaches and GMs might balk at having to accelerate their cuts, I have a way to keep them happy too.  They are allowed to name one cut per game to their practice squad, protecting them from other teams until the final rosters are set. 

You have the best marketers in the world.  Rather than eliminating games we don’t care about, make us care.  This is a proposal that I truly feel would work.  I ask for nothing in return. 

Although, if you want to call it The Krest Ceremony, I certainly wouldn't complain.


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