The Lions announce their 2008 exhibition lineup. Fans yawn as the NFL owners run all the way to the bank


The NFL, timing their announcements to the keep the league on the top of blogs and above the fold on the fish wrap sports pages on a year round basis, announced their exhibition schedule Thursday. (I’m sorry, but I REFUSE to call exhibitions “preseason” games. It’s just the NFL’s way of putting lipstick on a pig.) As much as I disapprove of length of the exhibition season, this is a Detroit Lions blog, so as reported by the Freep, here’s the Lions’ 2008 exhibition lineup.

"Detroit announced its exhibition lineup Thursday but not specific game dates. The opener will be played between Aug. 7 and 11, and will be the first test for Detroit’s revamped secondary.The Lions will visit Cincinnati between Aug. 14 and 18. They will host former Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and the Cleveland Browns between Aug. 21 and 25. Their exhibition finale will be at Buffalo either Aug. 28 or 29."

Talk about a yawn inducing announcement. Talk about yawn inducing games. Talk about a waste of the fan’s money, the team’s manpower and everybody’s time. As you might have guessed, I’m of the growing contingent who believes the NFL “exhibition” season is too long, too boring, and for the most part, totally unnecessary.

I can understand the need to play a couple of exhibition games, as some game action is necessary. But anything more than 2 exhibitions is overkill. For the league to have 4 boring ass exhibition games, and sometimes 5 for those unlucky franchises who have to play in the Hall of Fame game, or go overseas to spread the NFL word, is antiquated thinking. Even worse, it’s a blatant money grab made by billionaire owners whom are part of a league worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

There’s no need to play these games, other than to line the pockets of the team owners. It’s nothing short of felonious as to how the NFL bends over their season ticket holders, forcing them to buy the exhibitions as part of their ticket package.

In an era where players work out year round, and have no need to play themselves into shape, exhibition games are nothing more than an injury waiting to happen. Injuries which often end a team’s playoff chances before the season even begins.

From the Lions losing their top 2 QB’s to season ending injuries (Gary Danielson and Joe Reed) in the same 1979 exhibition game, forcing Monte Clark to start a rookie 9th round draft pick (the immortal Jeff Komo) under center, losing starting running back James Stewart in the last exhibition of the 2003 season (Thanks to Steve Mariucci going brain-dead, and calling several consecutive Stewart running plays, resulting in his tearing up his shoulder, ending Stewart’s season, and career), to Jeff Garcia breaking his leg before the start of the 2005 season, effectively putting Joey Harrington under center for another painful year, many a Lions season has been prematurely derailed thanks to an injury suffered in a meaningless exhibition.

Thus, like most of you, I spend the entire exhibition season on pins and needles, hoping no one vital to the Lions’ chances get hurt. If the Lions lost all 4 exhibitions in highly embarrassing fashion, but come out of them healthy, then I’ll consider it a successful training camp. That’s how meaningless these games are to the big picture.

You’d hope the NFL owners would see the light, throw the players and fans a bone, and reduce the exhibition season by a couple of games. (Should they extend the season to 18 games? That’s fodder for another post…)

But the exhibitions are essentially free money, and if there is one thing NFL owners would never do is to take revenue generating games off the schedule No matter how meaningless the matchup, or how little cash ends up in their pockets.