Preseason football is such a tease. As NFL fans, we are starved for football by the start of preseason. Saturday, 8/5, represents the 6-month mark since the most recent NFL game, Super Bowl LI, was played. We are desperate for football. Sure, we are craving the chance to root for our favorite NFL team, but we also crave the chances to root for our fantasy team, our other fantasy team, our other other fantasy team, our entry in a “Pick ‘Em” pool, our entry in another “Pick ‘Em” pool, our entry in a standard Survivor pool, our entry in our “one buyback in the first four weeks” Survivor pool, and our entry in a “Margin of Victory” pool.
Tonight, on NBC, the preseason commences with the Hall of Fame Game. Many of us football fans will turn on the game and get pumped by the Sunday Night Football theme music, which I assume NBC will use. (However, the theme NBC unveiled last year for Thursday Night Football is underratedly better than the Sunday Night theme and is already on my “Top 10 Christmas Songs” list.) Tonight, we will hear the beautiful voices of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, who together sound to me like a cross between Fergie and Jesus. In my opinion, Al Michaels is and will always be the best NFL play-by-play announcer, not bad for the guy who authored the greatest call in sports history while announcing a different sport. I also think that Cris Collinsworth is the best analyst in the NFL. On every play, he immediately sees something that I would never see, and he manages to explain it very logically to a typical football fan.
Anyway, I love NBC’s football coverage, but the other networks do a good job as well. When I first flip on a FOX preseason game, it is always great to hear the FOX football music (even though it angers me that the network now uses the football music for baseball too….that is like listening to Christmas music before November 15. It is not OK with me.). I am one of the few Americans who thinks Joe Buck does a good job, and I don’t hate Troy Aikman’s announcing (sorry, fellow Giants fans). CBS and ESPN have good music and good announcers too, and FOX’s secondary announcing crews also get the job done. It is exciting to hear any of these football voices, or football-broadcast theme songs, in August.
Meanwhile, you might be wondering why I am fixating so much on the announcers and theme music while ignoring the play on the field. That is because watching preseason games is really an otherwise awful experience. Yes, it is exciting during the first minute of a game to see the NFL uniforms on the field. However, after that first minute of watching the preseason game, this excitement is gone. How exciting is it to watch starters play one series before giving way to backups, third-stringers, fourth-stringers, and so on? Sure, I am interested in who will make up the back end of the Giants’ roster, but I do not need to watch four quarters of barely-NFL-caliber players fighting to obtain those jobs. It’s just not my thing. Even in the third preseason week, the one week when teams “play their starters”, the starters are taken out of the game at halftime (unless the starter’s name is “Mark Sanchez”).
That’s why tomorrow is the start of a 5-week tease. Five weeks from tomorrow is the first regular-season game of the NFL season. That is the day that really matters. OK, it is that day and the day of my fantasy draft that matter. OK, it is that day and the day of my fantasy draft and the day of my other fantasy draft that matter….but you get my drift. My Pavlovian instincts will be pumped when I hear the NBC theme music tonight, but I will subsequently feel let down when I remember that preseason games are not fun to watch. I get no satisfaction from a Giants preseason win; I have no preseason fantasy teams; and I have no preseason pool entries.
Plus, there are the three extra annoyances that come from the preseason.
- If, for example, a Cowboy returns a kickoff for a touchdown, you will see a stat tonight and tomorrow saying, for example, “The Cowboys now have 5 kickoff-return touchdowns since 2013 (including preseason).” Again, this is not a factual example. However, the silliness is that nobody ever looks at preseason stats once the regular season begins. It never happens. When Tyreek Hill was getting return touchdowns last year, nobody brought up Chiefs preseason touchdowns of 2016 or years prior. People try to make the preseason seem like a big deal when it is happening, and that is why networks blend preseason and regular-season stats (during the preseason). I’m not buying it. I don’t care about preseason stats.
- Perhaps 50% of the players you watch in a preseason game will make an NFL roster, but, about 90% of the players who suit up, you will hear announcers say “The coaches say this guy is gonna be a stud” or “I think this guy is gonna be a hell of a player” or “This guy could very well be the next (enter great player’s name here).” Of course that figure of 90% jumps to 150% if Jon Gruden is announcing the game. Look, I’m a math teacher. Don’t question it.
- Jets fans will act like every little positive moment for them in the Jets/Giants game is on the level of the “Helmet Catch”. This year, these moments will include things like, “Hackenberg is really turning a corner. There was actually a receiver within 15 feet of that pass.” and “The receivers aren’t looking that bad. If I were in a 50-team fantasy league, I would feel totally comfortable using Quincy Enunwa as a FLEX.”
Actually, on second thought, #3 isn’t annoying. It’s adorable. I can live with this one, because I know how tough things are on Jets fans once the real games start. It’s cute to see them happy for a few weeks in August.
Anyway; to bring it back to my main point, I am not into preseason football. I actually am not into preseason hockey or Spring Training either, but I’ll keep the focus here to football. We still have five weeks until the real games start. Five weeks is also the amount of time between Week 17 and the Super Bowl, the amount of time between “Selection Sunday” and the Sunday after The Masters (for those of you who watch golf, for reasons that continue to escape me), the amount of time between the Super Bowl and “Selection Sunday” (in some years), and the amount of time you can count on Gronk playing for your fantasy team this year. (Granted, you will absolutely go 5-0 during those weeks, if you have him.) Five weeks is simply too long to spend watching a knockoff version of something I love, NFL football. Therefore, I will flip on an August telecast here and there to hear one minute of theme music or announcing, but, that aside, I’ll be waiting until the tease ends on September 7 before tuning in.