The discussion has been on-going since the NFL turned Thursday Night Football into a weekly thing a few years back. The quality of football for these games, most people reason, is awful. Teams don’t have enough time to prepare or heal up from the previous Sunday and the product suffers. Of course from the players standpoint, who cares about the product? What is at issue here is health. Little rest and a taxing travel schedule threatens the well-being of these professional athletes.
To be honest, I don’t get worked up one bit about “the product.” Football, especially at the NFL level, is football to me. I can’t tell too much of a difference between a Sunday afternoon game and a Thursday night game. As for the concerns of the players, although I am a little more sympathetic, these athletes are still all getting paid six figures with many earning multi-million dollar paychecks. They travel like kings and enjoy access to the best trainers in the business, they can manage.
I dislike Thursday Night Football in its current form for a whole different reason.
Although I can’t argue with the popularity of the league, I think the NFL weekly schedule is oversaturated. You now have a full slate of games during the day on Sunday, a Sunday evening game, a Monday night football game, and a Thursday night football game. Not too long ago, your team played on Sunday or there might be the rare/special occurrence every couple years where your team would play on Monday night. Now, with Monday Night Football doubleheaders, random Saturday games, and a weekly Thursday night game it seems like there is a greater possibility that your team WON’T be playing on a Sunday.
Thursday games used to be sacred. You know why? Because it meant that the game was being played on Thanksgiving. The mystique of the Thanksgiving game is gone for two reasons: One, Thursday night games are played all season long. Two, Thanksgiving day in the NFL goes from morning to evening with a triple header.
The current slate of Thursday night games just aren’t special. How can you appreciate these games when the players publically say they hate them and you have to cruise high up on the dial to watch them? (NFL Network has taken over televising the remaining contests this season). Monday Night Football and Thanksgiving contests are/were special because you had the feeling that everyone was watching. You don’t get that with Thursday football.
The NFL made the exact same mistake that Major League Baseball did with interleague play. When MLB Commissioner Bud Selig debuted it in 1997 the games were numbered and the out of league opponents were few. The All-Star Game and the World Series still had its luster. But then MLB continued to expand the interleague schedule and increase the opponents each team would play. These days, they might as well just merge the American League with the National League. Major League Baseball let interleague play get out of control and tradition suffered. The same result has happened with the NFL football weekly schedule.
During the season, I don’t think it is a good thing that the NFL is played on 43% of the days of the week. I know in our current landscape, the NFL can do no wrong. Many of you might think I am crazy. But weekly Thursday Night Football doesn’t feel right to me. Give college football Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays…the NFL can manage perfectly by simply holding down Sundays and Mondays. Don’t Blink.