“On any given Sunday.” Not only is that a fantastic football movie starring Al Pacino and L.L. Cool J, but it is also a saying that rings true for NFL football each week. The pure uncertainty that comes with each Sunday is what makes this league great and is what makes football the most popular sport in America right now. Whether you’re setting your fantasy lineup, placing a bet, or cheering on your favorite team, Sunday is a day for football. But it was not always like that: Sunday used to be a day for rest and religion for millions. Don’t get me wrong — it still is for some, but now it seems that the NFL has taken over Sunday in many people’s lives. If this is to be the case, then why do they need Thursday too?
As Thanksgiving break has come to a close, so has the slate of Thanksgiving games. These Thursday night games are games that have clear cut value, as watching these games on Turkey Day have become a family tradition for many. Historically, people love watching the Cowboys and the Detroit Lions on this day, but this day is an exception. There are not going to be a lot of people who have a problem with Thanksgiving Thursday games, but every other Thursday night game? Many NFL analysts and TV personalities are calling for the abolishment of the weekly Thursday night game, and they have a legitimate gripe.
The reason for these Thursday night games are to promote the game, give the people the entertainment that they want, and of course, to make as much money as possible. But what about the players? How do these short weeks where a team plays a Sunday game and has to come back and play 4 days late affect the team’s success and a player’s health? These are the considerations that people need take. These teams fly across the country, play in the most brutal contact sport there is, yet they are expected to be in top-notch physical shape with only a short amount of recovery time.
There has been plenty of debate about how to deal with the scheduling of these games. Do they cut the number of games and only allow them to be played at the end of the season when college football is over and catching that viewership is easier to do? Possibly, but there is a prevailing opinion among analysts that Thursday games at the beginning of the season can only be detrimental to player health and team development. These Thursday night games at the beginning of the season are being played when the physicality of the game is at its highest and the chemistry of the team is at its lowest. How do these games bode well for anybody but the fans and the NFL executives?
Sure, promotions may help, and they have certainly tried their hand at spicing the game up by adding “color rush” uniforms, but in all reality, these efforts have failed. The league has seen a substantial drop in rating during the 2016 season. Only time will tell if the NFL will do away with Thursday Night Football. According to a few sources, the NFL is considering ending or limiting Thursday Night Football by 2018. The NFL has denied those allegation, citing their commitment to Thursday Night Football. As players and coaches continue to speak out against Thursday night games, the pressure on the league to consider players safety and integrity of the game will mount. It will be interesting to see if either side budges any time soon.