A "sellout" crowd gathers to absorb the electricity of NFL pre-season football.
It's Pre-Season. Capture the magic. Bradley Handwerger is feeling it.
Preseason football is a sham. It’s also highway robbery to make fans pay anything close to full price.
Teams play mostly base packages and use very vanilla offenses to get through the games.
While the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was said to be hosting 72,000-plus people for the game, I’m calling shenanigans. It was 70 percent full at best and those fine folks were mostly out of their seats by the fourth quarter.
And there’s still one more of these to go.
I know I’m not breaking any new ground here but four of these games wastes everyone’s time. The teams don’t need all four games to prepare for the season.
Their rosters are mostly filled already with each team having roughly 6-8 spots open.
There is nothing entertaining about watching a third-string running back run amok on a third-team defense.
I’d prefer to see maybe two of these games and 17 regular season games.
As excited as fans were for Friday night’s game because, you know, football was back, it wasn’t the real stuff.
How many days left until Sept. 8?
For what it's worth, I'd be okay with somewhere between zero and one exhibition games but I don't see any reason to expand the regular season at all. Football is dangerous. I don't know why anybody plays it at all. Besides the millions of dollars and worshipful adulation of tens of thousands of strangers, I mean. Friday night's completely useless event may not have pulled in 70,000 but there were still far more in attendance there than the simulated game had a right to. I know because I was there looking at them.
We all know how terrible fake football is. But none of us can deny that it is, nonetheless, a thing that happens. And so, since we allowed ourselves to happen along with it last night, here is what you need to know about the Saints-Chiefs pre-season opener should you choose to know anything about it at all.
Pre-season is a time for gaffes:
There were several of those beginning as early as mid-afternoon when we spotted this very pre-season cake work at Rouses.
Some of the people I showed this to were confused about the colors. I'll grant that the "gold" icing is maybe a little too orange but my concern is that there is so so much of it. There's almost as much icing in just the "gold" portion of the strangely two-tone fleur-de-lis as one would expect to find inside all of Rob Ryan. Also why is the design right justified? Was there supposed to be some text to the left? Or are we expected to merely infer "Who Dat?"
And then this happened.
Despite what Entergy's outage map may show, a replay of the Blackout Bowl is not expected tonight. According to the company's outage map, eight customers are out in the area near the Superdome, and a red line is skirting the Black and Gold sanctuary. But power is on at the stadium, where the Saints' preseason opener will be played on Friday night. Instead, it's the Entergy building that is without power.When we left the stadium after the game, an Entergy crew was still working to restore power to Entergy. I haven't bothered to check on their progress today. We'll check back in maybe a week or so.
The girl who sang the national anthem really nailed that line where it goes, "O'er the land of the land."
Non-gaffe related Dome issues:
True to their word, Superdome security was not letting the ladies bring their purses in. I also spoke with a few fans who were more aggressively patted down at the gate than they had been in the past. Luckily for us when we arrived the rain was coming down pretty hard so we managed to get ourselves and our extra-large plastic flask rushed through with no problem. I hope we can remain this fortunate as the year goes on. Beer in the Superdome is still ridiculously expensive. We didn't buy any.
Probably the biggest news of the night was the conspicuous absence of the heretofore obligatory "Halftime: Stand Up And Get Crunk" by Ying Yang Twins from the Superdome sound system following a Saints touchdown. Fans had grown weary of the once popular number and so greeted this development with cautious optimism.
Less popular were what we hope were mere filler choices to replace the song with bland stadium standards by Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica. Today Gambit is running an online poll for fans' choice of replacement. I'm not too keen on the options offered there either. On the other hand, Big Freedia as demonstrated here, has the greatest potential for baffling the visiting fans which is definitely something we would want to do.
We also noticed a new item at the concession stand in our section of the Terrace this year. Superdome "seafood nachos" are the most disturbing delicacy to appear there since the "walking taco" a few years ago.
The lights stayed on the whole time. Fans were very grateful for this during the first quarter and then only marginally so later on.
They kinda played some football:
We say "kinda" because we don't remember seeing anybody carted off the field which appears to be a requisite element of the game this year.
In any case, I hate having to pretend the football we were treated to was particularly significant so I won't say much about it. Here's what I noticed.
1) It was obvious to everyone the Saints wanted to take a good look at Kenny Stills. Mike Triplett thinks this means Stills is the team's favorite to play a lot this year as the number 3 receiver. I'm not convinced. Partially because it's not like the Saints to simply pencil a guy in as a contributor based on his draft position. But mostly because Payton is talking him up and I never believe a word that Payton says.
Although Stills didn't maximize his opportunity on Friday night, the Saints clearly showed how highly they think of the talented fifth-round draft pick from Oklahoma, giving him some prime-time looks with the first-string offense.Stills wasn't so great Friday night. This doesn't mean any of the other guys who played will beat him out. I have an irrational dislike of Andy Tanner based mostly on his status as a "camp favorite." Nick Toon is a legacy hire. And I really liked Preston Parker in Waiting for Guffman but I'm not satisfied that helps his chances of making this Saints' roster.
"We didn't just flip a coin or go rock-paper-scissors," Saints coach Sean Payton said of giving Stills the starting nod Friday while veteran Marques Colston sat out as a precaution with his foot injury still on the mend.
"He's been playing pretty well. He's smart, he's picked up things well. He runs well," Payton continued. "There's gonna be a number of good things for us to see, and things we need to correct from his play tonight. But we wanted to give him a look with us resting Colston. And he's gonna have to contribute.
Plus, the Saints picked up Steve Breaston at the Greyhound station last week and, today, they signed 49 year old Patrick Crayton. They're obviously not happy with most of their receivers at the moment.
2) Luke McCown looked terrible. I'm not even going to elaborate. He's terrible. Ryan Griffin played some late in the game. Couldn't tell much about him from what we saw. He'll be on the practice squad anyway.
3) I'm not freaked out by the fact that the defense got rolled early. I'm a little disappointed we didn't see evidence of that "attitude" they've been telling us they're working on. Maybe next week.
4) Junior Galette didn't play. Vilma didn't play. Kenny Vaccaro made a nice tackle on special teams but that was negated by a penalty. John Jenkins did a thing. That was nice.
Reid has more thorough notes on this stuff here. But this is about as far as I'm willing to go with a fake game. Nobody got hurt. Now we have to do this three more times.
Is there even any reason to go to the next game?
Well there's the chance to make another trial rum-run through security. Also there's the pressing question, "What's Seneca Wallace like?" that might might deserve some sort of answer. I doubt we'll see anything like this, though.