It’s been well established that the NFL is the king of professional sports here in America. While the other three major sports run considerably longer, its hard to find a fan-base that’s bigger than pro-football. Let’s face it, its the ultimate money machine with endorsements, ticket sales, TV deals, and team emblazoned apparel being sold. Every Sunday between September and early February, football is an all day event from sunrise all the way through the late night highlights. Alec Baldwin’s character in the film “Concussion” was right when he said “the NFL owns a day of the week.”
Now, as fans, we like to be entertained by what we watch on television, and in essence, the NFL is in the entertainment business. The key word in that last sentence is “business”; where the main objective is to generate revenue. There no such thing as too much when it comes to the NFL. This explains why every new season we have more regular season games that take place at Wembley Stadium in London (we won’t get into the possibility of an expansion team). And it is the main reason why the league features a game every Thursday night.
Remember back in the day when the only Thursday games that existed were the annual Thanksgiving games featuring the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys? That all changed when the shield and various networks officially debuted “Thursday Night Football” back on Thanksgiving night of 2006. Couple this with their “Saturday Editions” of TNF, ever the opportunist, the league office wasted no time in taking advantage of another cash grab. But there’s always a consequence to decisions and actions that are made, and the introduction of TNF is no exception. Players and fans alike have voiced their displeasure with these mid-week contests.
For the players, the main concern is the amount of rest and practice time they have during the week. One vocal advocate of abolishing Thursday games is Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, who was quoted earlier this week referring to the quick turnaround games as “Poopfests”. Now mind you, the Seahawks were fresh off a blowout loss at Green Bay, so there might have been a some sour grapes in his sentiment. But his reasoning makes sense; the NFL likes to think that they’re looking out for player safety and they have made great strides in making sure players under the concussion protocols are properly monitored. As for the rest of the body, its hard to be fully prepared for your next contest when you factor in travel and loss of at least three days of practice compared to having six or seven days.
From a fan perspective, you want to be entertained and see good games, but depending on how good your team is, it might be hard to watch. As much as the NFL is all in on these Thursday games, the majority of these contests aren’t really worth the time or energy to watch. Case in point, last night’s game between the LA Rams and the aforementioned Seahawks was for lack of a better term a boring affair with a predictable outcome. The Rams have been a mediocre to awful team for years, and the firing of former head coach Jeff Fisher put the exclamation point on yet another sub-500 season. Why would anyone want to spend their Thursday night watch teams like the Rams or the winless Browns lose when there are options like the weekly NBA double-headers on TNT?
This writer does look forward to football season every year. The off-seasons can be long, but there’s something about when fall comes, its a feeling like no other. Even if you have a less than great team you root for, you can’t wait until that first kickoff. As this season winds down though, I’ve come to agree with the masses that “Thursday Night Football” is overkill. Players (and fans) aren’t getting the best quality on the field, but the league is still lining their pockets. Perhaps it’s time the shield listens to the players, fans, and most of all ratings, and do away with Thursday Nights. Let the high school and colleges have the mid week games, and save the pro games for Sundays and Mondays. After all, they do own a day of the week, right?