Time for the Eagles and the NFL to Fix the Preseason

As happens each February, the Groundhog forecasted two events — that we would have six more weeks of winter, and that the Eagles would soon send out the season ticket invoices for the coming season. Both have occurred.

This would be an excellent time for the Eagles to make an innovative change for next season that will benefit ticket holders, Philadelphia children and the NFL at large. I’m talking about the Great Football Fraud (a/k/a the NFL Pre-Season) and what can be done to fix it. Pope Francis may even like what I am proposing, but more about that later.

Fans know what I am talking about – basically four games in which the starters and second stringers get about 30 minutes of total playing time, to get their timing down and accustom themselves to game situations.

For the rest of the 210 playing minutes, we are treated to the spectacle of forty guys on each team trying to secure a handful of realistically available roster spots. Most of these players will soon be cut, some moved to practice squads while others try to hook on with another team. For most of them, though, it’s just time to get on with their lives.

With marginal players on the field, and the referees following the NFL mandate to throw flags at almost anything that moves, these sloppy pre-season games are, frankly, unwatchable. Heck, the top 22 players on each team don’t even play in the fourth and final game of the preseason.

But if this is the case, why are there thousands of fans in the stands for the two home pre-season games played at the Linc? Simple: the NFL forces their ticket holders to purchase these two games, as part of the season package. I guess we can be thankful that some years ago the league shifted two of the then-six preseason games to the regular season, but the fraud continues — what we see in the preseason games is not NFL-caliber football, and not what we should be paying for.

But rather than just complain, I have a proposal. The Eagles should take the revenue they generate from ticket sales for all 10 home games, allocate it against the 8 regular season games, and designate the two home preseason games for what they really are – let’s call them “Tryout Games”, and make them free.

For the season ticket holder, the annual total cost does not change, so the Eagles will be happy. What does change is that the ticket holder can opt either to take the two home Tryout Games for free, or allow the Eagles to give them away to kids who would be happy to attend a game during Tryout Season — kids who don’t otherwise have the opportunity to visit the stadium, to get the feel of the atmosphere, and to have a great night out. My guess is that thousands of ticket holders will “opt out” of the Tryout Games, knowing that the Eagles will make them available to Boys and Girls Clubs, Scouting organizations, the Police Athletic League, church groups, etc.

Let the kids have a chance to watch the Tryout Games. Let them come with their parents and siblings — let’s call it Family Night at the Eagles. The Pope is arriving in September to celebrate the World Meeting of Families, so this ties right in.

Everybody wins. The Eagles keep their pre-season revenue. Ticket holders who like these games can continue to attend. Donated tickets will go to kids and their families who will be happy to be there. The NFL, if they decide to adopt this approach league-wide, gets a desperately needed public relations boost. Even Pope Francis may be pleased.