Everything You Need to Know Before the NFL Pre-Season Kicks Off

Football is back!

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Thursday night marks the return of the NFL to TV screens when the Bears and Ravens meet up for the annual Hall of Fame game. 

The game itself is utterly meaningless, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth watching, especially for those who have hankering for football. A week from today, a full slate of preseason games will be played as the march toward the regular season beings. 

Here are some thing to know before tonight’s kickoff in Canton.

Watch the quarterbacks

Pre-season games typically provide a showcase for a team’s second and third string quarterbacks, which doesn’t often make for good TV. But that should be different Thursday. The Ravens will trot out Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, who’s expected to sit behind Joe Flacco on the depth chart, but could challenge the 33-year-old for snaps if he can play like he did in college.

And sitting behind Jackson is another former Heisman winner. Robert Griffin III will attempt to make a comeback with the Ravens after sitting out last season. If he’s to be successful, it’ll likely require some pre-season fireworks. 

The anthem controversy lives on

The NFL tried this off-season to put a lid on the controversy that surrounds players protesting during the national anthem. It failed. 

After announcing plans to punish teams if players didn’t stand at attention while on the sideline for the anthem, the league stepped back last month. Now games are starting and no one quite knows for sure what will happen. 

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If the NFL was hoping time would quell player’s anger, it hasn’t. And prominent Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hasn’t helped either, saying his team’s policy is “you stand at the anthem, toe on the line.” Players responded by saying he had a “plantation mentality” and calling him a “bully,” proving that this isn’t going away any time soon. 

Injuries, injuries, injuries

Even before the games have started, players have started going down. 

This is the reason why big name players won’t be playing many snaps until the games start to matter. 

It’s football!

Do you really need any other reason to watch?