Because the National Football League is the dominant spectator sport in the nation, the number one sport in popularity according to fans in every Gallup or Harris poll taken since 1968, everyone wants to get right onto the regular season, and there is a common theme that preseason football does not matter and/or is not very interesting.
As is always the case, however, it all depends on your point of view.
Every team has veteran players who do not need too many reps, don’t want too many, and won’t be given too many over these next four games.
However, for every player of that ilk, there is at least one, more likely two or three who are dependent on every single play of camp and games to try and impress.
Remember, the camera is always on; the coaches see every play of every practice, over and over.
Sometimes it is just one impression that sinks a player’s name into a coach’s mind; then, can the player do it one more time? Can he do it again and again in practice?
And if so, will he carry it over into the games, and if so, with consistency of performance over a four-week period?
These games could not be any bigger for those players, nor in that regard for the coaches who are looking for one more Karl Mecklenburg (a 12th-round draft choice), Rod Smith (an undrafted free agent), or Terrell Davis (a sixth-round draft choice who this year will be inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame).
Or how about Steve Watson (undrafted free agent), Tyrone Braxton (a 12th-round draft choice), or Steve Foley (a college quarterback that the Broncos thought could be a candidate at safety).
In fact, a scan of the Pro Football Hall of Fame membership list shows more unheralded players in the Hall than number one draft choices.
Johnny Unitas and Dick “Night Train” Lane are just a couple of examples.
Once they are signed, they all put on the same uniform, do the same drills, and play in the same games. The NFL is a complete meritocracy — the best players play — and Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan has been the embodiment of that philosophy in the annual makeup of his roster.
It can be pretty common to watch these games far more casually that one would watch a regular season game. After all, they don’t count.
Broncos fans have seen those above mentioned players and many more first make their names known in preseason games, and there will be a lot of fans tuned in and sitting in the stands armed with their rosters of draftees and free agents, looking for the next big guy.
Because every coach knows that he is always out there somewhere.