It’s never smart to bet money on “preseason” NFL football games, because they are utterly meaningless to anybody except the hundreds of players who may or may not be cut after each one – something I have to remind my attorney constantly. There are roughly 100 players out there for each team, competing desperately with each other for 53 roster spots for each team. Few of them even know each other’s names – crazy.
Pre-season games are like a dance with Death, for most of them. They will never be a starting player on any NFL team; they will never even get to wear a legitimate team jersey or see themselves on TV, like they always dreamed of.
Trying out is like a huge casting call for the next Star Wars movie, something in the Marvel Universe, or a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, about sex, death and violence in a typical all-American family that gets caught up in a kidnapping plot to move terrorists from Korea to New Orleans during the hurricane season. The movie will be a hot one, requiring thousands of mob-scene extras.
There will inevitably be many socio-paths among the teams, many unregistered perverts and super-groupies depending entirely on Steroids and Downers to make it through the first few dozen practices. Most of them are habitually unemployed anyway, and trying out as an inside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers might look like an good idea, to some people.
And besides, there is always that one in a million chance that you might be suddenly discovered, like Marlon Brando.
Most of these stories have horrible endings, but there are, of course, exceptions to that rule, and we saw one of the best of them in real life over a decade ago. Michael Lewis, known as “Beer Man” to his teammates, was a 29 year-old one-time beer-truck driver when he got his final tryout for the New Orleans Saints.
The Beer Man averaged 25.8 yards per kickoff return in 2002 and 14.2 on punts, second in the NFL. He also ran the 40 in 4.2, which means certain death for any defender who suddenly gets assigned to cover him. Many failed, and many were instantly cut and sent back to the Arena League, NFL Europe, or the local grocery market.
The NFL preseason fully opens for Week 1 tonight and the schedule has all 32 teams in action with TV and live streaming coverage from the NFL Network for some games, with teams like the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, NY Jets, Detroit Lions, Bears, Dolphins, Cowboys and San Diego Chargers in action.
The schedule for Thursday starts with games at 7:30 pm ET starting with the Green Bay Packers visiting the New England Patriots on the NFL Network. The game should have some intrigue with Jimmy Garoppolo getting time with Tom Brady, maybe facing suspension and it will be the first game since the recent hearing between Tom Brady and Hizzoner about the QB’s ban.
The New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens are also playing at 7:30 pm ET in Maryland, with the NY Jets and the Detroit Lions playing at Ford Field. The Miami Dolphins are at the Chicago Bears, and the Washington Americans are at Cleveland, 8 pm ET. The Dallas Cowboys play the San Diego Chargers in California, and that game will be on the NFL Network starting at 10 pm ET.
The Friday schedule is a full slate as well with the Atlanta Falcons playing the Tennessee Titans on the NFL Network at 7 pm ET. The Panthers and Bills will play in Buffalo at the same time. Pittsburgh and the Jacksonville Jaguars play at 7:30 pm ET in Florida, and the New York Giants play Cincinnati in Paul Brown Stadium.
The late games for Friday include the St. Louis Rams at Oakland, 10 pm ET, and the Denver Broncos play at Seattle, for another Super Bowl rematch on the NFL Network – Peyton Manning will be wearing a ballcap instead of a helmet. The Saturday NFL schedule has prime-time games with the Niners taking on Houston in NRG Stadium at 8 pm ET, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings are also playing at 8 pm ET, on the NFL Network. The Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals are playing at 9 pm ET.
The Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles are playing Sunday at 1 pm ET at Lincoln Financial Field.