NFL preseason feeds the beast


NFL preseason feeds the beast

And so, another largely pointless NFL preseason is about to end, another 65-game hamster wheel race that reveals next to nothing except our capacity for self-delusion when it comes to professional football.In other words, it all means something unless you dont want it to mean anything. Or it means nothing unless you want it to mean something. Neither matters as long as you keep tapping that vein.And yet, whats the alternative? Two more real games that serve mostly to keep people talking and increase the damage done to assets equipment . . . er, players bodies?Amazing, then, when you think of it. A month of valueless non-entertainment ends up being less valuable than two more games of time-bomb carnage, and the NFL wins either way. In fact, amazing doesnt even begin to cover it. Breathtaking comes closer to the truth. Yes, August is an important month for coaches who want answers to small questions and players on the fringe who are hoping to be those answers. But for the rest of America, at least the large segment that believes that any football at all is better than the best of anything else, this really is the shining monument to ones ability to want to be gulled.I once thought that the NFL was responsible for this morass of late summer nonsense, and maybe in a conspiratorial way it still is. In the last 10 years, it has performed a mind-meld with its customer base to convince that everything is hugely important even when the large percentage of it truly is not.Example: The Indianapolis combine. And dont even try to make an argument for it. Youre wrong, youve been wrong, and youll always be wrong. Its large young men in their underwear running, jumping and lifting heavy things, and thats all it is.But the practice game season has always been considered a joke to most folks that is, until we decided as a media-driven collective (providers and consumers alike) that trying to ferret out what is important from what isnt is not nearly as lucrative as throwing everything into the air, calling it all important and letting the blather fall where it may.In other words, feeding the beast. And not because there was a great demand for it from the customer, but because the technology allows us to make a bigger and more ravenous beast.The NFL didnt make this beast, but it saw what it could be when it was a mere beastlet. There was an information explosion coming, and the NFL leaped into the breach to convince people that it needed to be among the first in line to fill the crater.And so it is. And the proof is every August, and every time someone wants to engage in a discussion about which third-string quarterback would be a better fit for backup clipboard for Your Favorite Team. Twenty years ago, this debate either got you clocked in your favorite tavern, or got you your own end of the bar, away from everyone else.Now, you can get a spirited discussion on why the NFL blackout policy sucks in the preseason, even though no games are worth watching. Veterans now sit out entire preseasons without penalty, but everyone agrees that is prudent. Thus, we have games people want to see that are games veterans know are time-wasters. It is jaw-dropping.But after this weekend, mercifully, the worst month of the year will be over, and we can get down to the really important things that make the NFL what it is today.Namely, the five months of high speed collisions that will shape the events that help you prepare more comprehensively for the upcoming draft in April.And you could never truly have that with in 18-game regular season.Ray Ratto is a columnist for

Bills sign two former 49ers

Bills sign two former 49ers

The Buffalo Bills have signed two 49ers free agents within the past two days.

After signing wide receiver Rod Streater on Wednesday, the Bills announced the signing of linebacker Gerald Hodges on Thursday.

The 49ers acquired Hodges in a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick. Hodges started 12 games last season and ranked second on the team with 92 tackles.

Hodges left the 49ers shorthanded for a late-season game against the Atlanta Falcons when he violated team rules. Then-coach Chip Kelly did not disclose the nature of Hodges infraction. Hodges offered no explanation or apology.

The 49ers entered the game against the high-powered Falcons with just two healthy inside linebackers due to Hodges’ deactivation. Starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game, and the 49ers were forced to use safeties Antoine Bethea and Vinnie Sunseri, and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks at various points of the game.

The 49ers showed no interest in re-signing Hodges as a free agent.

Streater, a five-year NFL veteran, saw action in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in September. He caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.