Before learning so much about the game of football, good and bad, I would have been overjoyed to watch an NFL game every night of the week. Unfortunately, that is unrealistic due to a multitude of reasons, arguably the most important reason being player safety.
That’s why for years, professional football was kept to Sunday’s and Monday’s with the occasional Saturday playoff game in January. The only time a game was ever played on a different day was Thanksgiving. Once a year, a handful of teams would and still do suit up on Turkey day to deliver football fans everywhere their Thanksgiving football fix.
Then, Thanksgiving Day in 2006, Thursday Night Football (TNF) was born. Since then, the brand has expanded and become the weekly monster we see today. This season, a Thursday night game is scheduled to be played every single week, and it appears the brand may expand given Roger Goodell’s past speculation about possible Thursday night double-headers in the future.
And why not? When the NFL Network is bringing in over nine million fans in viewership, the Philadelphia versus Kansas City game earlier this year produced a TNF record 9.4 million fans tuning in, and making considerably more money on a TNF game than a 1 p.m. Sunday game, then it’s a no-brainer.
It sounds great, the NFL and teams make more money on a given game, and fans get one more night of football every week. But the NFL executives need to step back and ask themselves if the cost to the players is really worth the monetary benefit.
More and more players have voiced their displeasure with being forced to play a TNF game.
“I mean, if you’re so concerned about player safety, then why do you have every team in the league playing on Thursday night when they just competed on a Sunday, knowing how difficult it is for guys to get back to being healthy after playing on Sunday?” Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49er’s wide-out, told the Seattle Times.
A player’s body is accustomed to a certain regimen. They go out and compete on Sunday, leave it all on the field, and then have a recovery schedule leading up to the next week’s game. Thursday is right in the middle of a player’s recovery and preparation time for Sunday, meaning that even a healthy player isn’t back to 100 percent by Thursday. Now the player is being asked to go back out, on just three days of rest, and compete at their highest level.
To expect quality football in this case is absurd, not to mention the more important risk being taken: The health of every man stepping on the field and competing that night.
If Roger Goodell truly had player’s health as his number one priority, he would bring things back to the way they were before. Thanksgiving Day games are fine, but TNF games every week? Absolutely not; players need to be kept healthy for Sunday instead. They might not make as much money as they could, but at least the guys are getting their rest, and in the end it might lead to happier employees and longer careers down the road. Instead, Goodell and the NFL are once again proving through their actions that they could care less about player safety, and what truly matters in their hearts is the bottom line.