Preseason is too long

John D'Onofrio

The stars have lined up before, metaphorically, of course, but it's always refreshing for any true Buffalo fan when the Bills enter a National Football League season with an above average starting quarterback who's healthy and expected to do great things in the upcoming season.

The optimism isn't just palpable, it's audible or visible or both on talk radio, twitter, Facebook, ESPN and all other media outlets — social and unsocial.

Whatever happens in the upcoming Buffalo pre-season (which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at home against the Indianapolis Colts), my biggest hope is that Bills and their coaching staff do their utmost to keep things that way.

That's not always easy, of course. Injuries are a part of any true sport, especially violent ones like football. Throw in the unpredictability factor, like all things in life, and try to fathom with me why the NFL is still playing a month full of preseason games.

Okay, first I bow to the intellectual football guys. Trying to determine a final roster is tough in any sport on any level, especially the professional one where so many factors weigh in that the public knows little about besides the obvious ones. And of course, game-like situations that don't count are at a premium as far as preparation.

Those are givens. 

However, most of us are non-intellectual men, women, boys and girls, cats and dogs, who are just trying to enjoy their summer.

It's 90 degrees outside and the hot dogs are burning on the grill — just like my wife likes them. The kids in the neighborhood are running around and diving on their slip slides — holding their I-Phones, of course — everyone has the AC on high and splashes can be heard in swimming pools throughout the city with everyone just trying to stay cool.

Football? They're playing football?

Yes, preseason NFL football has already started — five weeks of mental suspended animation like John Robinson's family on the Jupiter 2 with nauseating, month-long barrages of overreaching Billsmania hype and unnecessary injuries worthy of sports hell, leading up to 22 consecutive weeks of sports heaven, especially if the Bills are successful.

It's Buffalo's golden anniversary season in the NFL, after all, and 60th overall. It's also the team's fifth full season under the steady ownership of Terry and Kim Pegula and the franchise's third straight season under the head coach/general managing tandem of Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane.

Continuity helps, but I think it's time at long last to get rid of one or two preseason games. The first one is a joke, featuring guys with names and numbers most fans are not familiar with getting most of the playing time. Starters play one or two series, if that — and I'm not complaining about that when it comes to our starting quarterback, if he's already set in stone like this one — but nobody goes to the game except that nephew you gave your tickets to because you'd rather sing karaoke at the Ski Lodge and nobody's watching on TV because they'd rather see Camille storm off the Season 9 reunion set of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

To the greedy selfish owners, yes, dropping one or two exhibition games means losing revenue, good God! But just think about the added revenue you could make if those weeks were converted to the regular season?

The days of poorly-compensated NFL players and cavemen medicine on the sideline are long gone. It's 2019. Even the worst players get paid enough and the care they are given is better than most of us. And whatever it's taking coaches, owners and GMs to do can be sliced by at least a week — hopefully two.

Early preseason? I don't have time to follow the salesman from Westfield, Mass. who walked on and survived the first round of cuts. I've got two lawns to cut and a bedroom and a basement that need to be remodeled so I spend most of my time these summer days doing home improvement shopping with Ron Sementelli.

Someone wake me up when the third or fourth preseason game roles around. That's when things start getting interesting to me.

Anyone who tells you anything definitive about the Bills right now is either just doing their job as a legitimate reporter or is full of Mike Mularkey.

The NFL regular season opens Sept. 5. We'll know more about all the teams in just a few more weeks. Until then, everyone please take a deep breath and try not to get swallowed up by the hype or any preseason win or wins.

Enjoy the new theme song, the new motto and the usual hype. Just don't ask me right now what I think of the team.

I don't.

Follow veteran US&J sports reporter and editor John D'Onofrio at @JohnD'Onofrio7.

Recommended for you