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October 16, 2013

The NFL wants to expand Thursday Night Football

by Jared

The NFL started Thursday Night Football a few years ago as a means of getting people to tune into the NFL Network, which puts on the worst football broadcast of the week between its sloppy presentation and repetitive airings of that commercial where Rich Eisen implores us to “put a topping on it” because nom nom nom delicious Papa John’s pizza money. Ratings are up this year for Thursday nights — not because people are coming around to Thursday Night Football, but because if there’s football on we’re going to watch it, damn the calendar.

The NFL knows we love this product, and that we’ll love it regardless of when it’s played (and regardless of how bad it is for those who play it). So if some Thursday Night Football is good, more is better, right?

From Pro Football Talk:

Per the [WSJ] report, the league could stage some Thursday night doubleheaders, with games being televised on networks other than the league-owned broadcast operation.

The NFL reportedly is disappointed that the present approach, which expanded last year to cover most Thursdays, hasn’t generated more interest. In addition to additional Thursday night games, some of the games currently televised by NFL Network could be sold to other networks.

“Other networks” could mean traditional channels like CBS, FOX or NBC, or it could meanonline providers like Netflix and Google. While the later is a cool concept that would resonate with the youth, the NFL would likely sell the rights to whoever bids the most for it — and they may do this even if the plan to add more Thursday night games falls through, since having the games on their own network doesn’t necessarily maximize their profit.

Of course, maximizing profit is the goal here — not listening to what most people who actually have to play on Thursdays have to say about it. Just a short list here, but people like Cardinals coach Bruce Arians49ers WR Anquan Boldin and Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis have all come out against playing on Thursdays, citing the short week as the reason for sloppy play and increased injury risk.

From the National Football Post:

Teams change their gameplan because they are forced to scale back their preparation. The Saints, for example, typically cut down the number of their practice reps each day and do not go in full pads all week before they play on Thursday night.

“Before you know it, the game’s on you,” Saints center Brian de la Puente said. “You like being in the spotlight, but it also poses recovery and logistical issues.”

Regarding his typical recovery, Cutler said Thursday is the day his body is “just starting to feel a little bit better.”

“Physically just being able to go out there full speed on Thursday is a challenge,” he said. “It’s hard to win in this league especially on a Thursday.”

You don’t have to ask the players about how bad the games have been: Not only has this year’s Thursday night lineup failed to produce a game between two teams over .500, but the lack of preparation has been obvious, with tons of turnovers, penalties and vanilla play-calling schemes that we just don’t see the likes of on Sundays.

So we’ve seen that putting games on Thursdays dilutes the product we love, puts players further at risk, damages the league’s image and ruins our fantasy teams. Plus, it will be a tough sell to get more teams to play on a short week, or to get all teams to play a short week at least twice a year. But if the NFL can make money by selling us more of it, then it’s going to happen. The almighty dollar rules in America, and it’s no different for our favorite businesssport.


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