Angelo Cataldi: The NFL Preseason is a scam

Nick Foles throws during an Eagles practice session at Franklin Field. Credit: Charles Mostoller, Metro Nick Foles throws during an Eagles practice session at Franklin Field. Credit: Charles Mostoller, Metro

In a sports world filled with cheats and thieves, there is no bigger scam than preseason NFL games. At ridiculous prices, fans must sit through disjointed scrimmages featuring unrecognizable players on a field cluttered with penalty flags. It is insane that these so-called sports events get big TV ratings.

A case in point is last Friday night’s unwatchable Eagles-Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field. After a seven-month wait for some actual football action, fans learned very quickly that they would have to wait another month. This was not football; this was folly. What exactly were we watching?

Nick Foles looked terrible in the preseason opener, throwing two interceptions – the same total he had in the entire 2013 season – and leading a haphazard offense through a first quarter muddled by 12 penalties. Does this mean Nick Foles will be a bust in his second season? Or that he was lucky last year? No and no.

The next big issue facing the Eagles in this season of high expectations is the defense, ranked last in the NFL a year ago but now buttressed by some new players and a new confidence. This revamped unit stuffed the Bears on the first series, and then got steamrolled for a touchdown on the second. What did we learn? Nothing.

The new players, including the hyped (especially by me) rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews, looked like new players – confused, nervous, disappointing. Matthews actually dropped two balls and said later that he needed to work on his concentration. So did the TV viewers, who had to endure this dreck.

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the most powerful sport in the world, has not hidden his own disdain for the preseason because he believes these games are below the standard of entertainment that the NFL demands. His motivation is obvious here; he wants to make more money for his multi-billion-dollar business. But he is also right.

If Friday night’s Eagles preseason debut proved anything, it is that fans deserve better than this. They deserve what Goodell has been campaigning for, and what the players have been strenuously blocking – an 18-game schedule with two preseason contests.

Think about it. Teams use their starters for only a couple of series in the preseason opener – Eagles coach Chip Kelly had a goal of 10-15 snaps – and they usually don’t use them at all in the final exhibition game. So why are there four of these insults to our intelligence?

When I sat down last Friday night to watch a team I love in a sport I crave, I was kidding myself. None of us will have any idea about the fortunes of the Eagles until the regular season begins on Sept. 6.

But we did learn something during that ghastly game. The NFL preseason is a total waste of our time.

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