Thursday Night Football dangerous for players

Thursday Night Football causes more player injuries by depriving them of recovery time.

As the NFL regular season comes to a close many are looking at a big issue among players: Thursday Night Football (TNF). During the NFL season, about 16 games are played every week: one game Monday, one game Thursday, and 14 games on Sunday. The tradition of football on Sundays dates to the 1950s, and Monday Night Football started broadcasting in 1970; in comparison, regular Thursday games began in 2006 and have recently caused a lot of controversy.

TNF is dangerous to players because it can cause more injuries. Many players think the same thing. Richard Sherman, a defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks, has been very outspoken on the issue. At the beginning of the 2017-2018 season, Sherman was playing through an Achilles injury. It is not uncommon for players to fight through an injury, but in a TNF game against the Arizona Cardinals he ruptured his Achilles, and his season ended in the blink of an eye. He was one of six Seahawks players to leave that game due to injuries. His teammate, Doug Baldwin, was upset after the game. “[It] should be illegal. It is not OK. It’s not OK. You can quote me on that,” Baldwin said.

Sherman is not the only star to have a season ending injury during a TNF in recent years. Two seasons ago, the three time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt had a season ending back injury during a TNF game. He already had an issue going into the game, just like Sherman, and left the game due to a herniated disk in his back. He had surgery and did not play another game that season.

Injuries are an issue because of the game but also many players are ruled out for the game because of the lack of preparation time. A regular NFL week has six days of preparation. Thursday night games have three.

This is what a week of preparation looks like for a game played on Sunday:

  • Monday- film, a little running and lifting. Maybe a MRI if a player has any injuries they are dealing with.
  • Tuesday- Off day
  • Wednesday- full practice
  • Thursday- light practice with just helmets
  • Friday- another light practice
  • Saturday- walk through
  • Sunday- game day

But, on a TNF week, this is what a week of preparation looks like:

  • Monday- Massage and cold tub
  • Tuesday- full practice (helmets and pads)
  • Wednesday- light practice, walkthrough
  • Thursday- game day

As you can see, there is no off-day for a Thursday game week. Players have to fit all of their rehab on Monday because their off-day was taken away. They are still recovering from bumps and bruises sustained on Sunday and have to turn around in four days to play another game. In the Ravens-Dolphins game this season, 13 players were questionable for the Ravens. Numbers like that only increase as the season goes on because players get more nagging injuries.

TNF was started as an experiment to see if two teams who do not draw a lot of national attention can hold a standalone primetime television slot. The problem is, the league will never get rid of thursday night football. Since its inception, Every TNF game makes on average $45 million, and since its launch, TNF has spread to networks like NBC and CBS. No one can make the NFL do anything; they basically own a day of the week. The only way to stop TNF is to stop it from making money but with 14.6 million viewers during the last TNF game of the season between two teams that were not even close to making the playoffs, it is clear people are still watching. The NFL’s main goal is to make money and as long as they are making money, Thursday Night Football is not going anywhere anytime soon.