There are times when we as people know something to be 100% fact yet other people will still deny it. I’ve argued for years that the National Football League is far more interested in money than in any sort of ‘player safety.’
Now that argument has as much solid fact behind it as any argument could. In this week’s MMQB through www.SI.com, writer Robert Klemko spoke with players about Thursday Night games now held every week of the season.
Before I get too far into the breadth of the article, let’s examine how an NFL player’s week typically goes.
In a typical ‘game is on Sunday’ situation, the team will come into the team’s facility on Monday and will start preparing for the next opponent. This will include team activities and group position activities. Those things may include chalkboard sessions, video, walk-thru situations and so on.
Tuesday is almost always a day off for players with a couple of exceptions where teams give Monday off.
Wednesday and Thursday are usually the heaviest days in terms of practice and preparation and where players are usually made available to the media.
Depending upon where a team plays, Friday could be a walk-thru followed by a flight to the city where they’ll play. In most cases however, the team won’t depart until the day before which is Saturday.
With that general overview in mind, let’s go back to the article where Pro Bowl offensive tackle Duane Brown was one of the players interviewed. Following a Thursday night game Brown had this to say, “That Friday, everything was hurting; knees, hands, shoulders,” he remembers. “I didn’t get out of bed until that night. I didn’t leave the house at all. You talk about player safety, but you want to extend the season and add Thursday games? It’s talking out of both sides of your mouth.”
Most players will tell you they feel like this on Mondays following a Sunday game. I can remember Jerome Bettis saying that he struggled to even get down the stairs of his home on Mondays.
Now imagine you feel this way on Monday and then again on Friday of the same week! Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett says: “People don’t know this; after the game, it’s normally Friday and Saturday when your body starts feeling better. I’ve been around for 13 years, so it takes a little longer to recover.”
Even though it is not in the best interest of the players from health and safety standpoint to play these games, the league offices of the NFL could care less. The Thursday night packages bring in an estimated $700 million and that number is sure to go higher according to Klemko.
If the league offered half the games (and kept the other half on the NFL Network) there would certainly be a bidding war.
As was also pointed out in the piece, it doesn’t matter who is playing on Thursday Night Football because it will still be one of the most-watched shows of the week. No one can deny the monster that the NFL has become and Roger Goodell uses this to its’ ultimate end.
Unfortunately the game has become more popular not because of the game itself. It’s become what it has because of fantasy football which makes the novice fan feel like they are a part of the action. Never mind the fact that football is a great game that is being stripped down to the core. Never mind that the players are getting beat up with this mid-week games either.
As it has always been over the tenure of Roger Goodell, it’s always about the money.