Commentary: Preseason is necessary evil

Let's revise a scary moment from Friday night's Packers-Jaguars game.

Instead of Ahman Green walking off the field and Packer Nation letting out a sigh of relief that could be heard halfway around the world, this time Green is carted off the field. His knee is ruined. His season is over, and so, too, is the Packers' season.

Such scenarios happen all too often during preseason football games. What happened to Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and Jets quarterback Chad Pennington last preseason are Exhibits 1 and 1-A. The Eagles lost a solid running back in Correll Buckhalter just a week ago.

With those injuries, the cry inevitably begins: Cut back on the preseason. Four games is too many. Four games is too dangerous.

Those people have a point. Those people also are wrong.

Four preseason games are a necessary evil. If you don't believe it, rewind if you dare Friday night's Packers game. That was preseason game No. 3, and the Packers — a legitimate Super Bowl contender, not some second-rate bunch of scrubs — not only need the fourth preseason game but maybe a fifth, sixth and seventh.

The Packers simply aren't very good right now in two of the three phases of the game. The offense should be one of the best in the league but it's been downright awful. In the last two games, the Packers have been called for 27 accepted penalties and scored only 26 points. The only sport I know of in which you can win with more penalties than points is soccer, which is barely a sport so I've already ruined my analogy.

The Packers' offense has stepped on the field 42 times in three games and managed one touchdown. That seven points equals the number of holding penalties on Friday night.

Think the Packers don't need another preseason game?

OK, if that's not enough to sway you, how's this: The Packers have played three preseason games and still don't have a punter. At this rate, they may not have one until next April's draft, when Packers coach-GM Mike Sherman trades his third- and fourth-round picks to grab some schmoe in the second round.

The punting shortcomings aren't the only problems with the special teams. The return game has been abysmal. Antonio Chatman has taken two steps forward as a wide receiver but two steps backward as a punt returner. And that's when he fails to catch the ball. When he does catch the ball, it's 24 steps sideways but no steps forward.

Don't get me wrong. I hate preseason football as much as you do. It's bad enough getting paid to watch this drivel, so I feel sorry for the season-ticket holders who are forced to pay full price to watch second-rate football.

Friday's game was nothing short of unwatchable. By about the 74th punt of the game, I would have much rather been cutting down that dead tree in my yard with a butter knife.

You get the feeling Sherman would have preferred to be cutting down my tree with a butter knife while watching the flags fly like so many autumn leaves. Then again, maybe Sherman has a sick sense of humor, figuring more penalties means more punts, which at least gives us fans reason to laugh hysterically every time it looks like B.J. Sander is trying to punt a canned ham.

At least watching someone else's misfortune is funny in that awkward sort of way. The thought of a season-ending injury to Green isn't quite as funny. Nor is having to endure the necessary evil known as preseason football.

Huber writes for Contact him via e-mail at

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