Why the NFL Needs to Ditch Thursday Night Football

Tonight is the NFL Draft, which is the most excited we should be about football on a Thursday all year. While the prospect of additional NFL football on TV is enticing to fans, there is a heated debate over whether the NFL should stick with Thursday Night Football. An increase in injury potential, a tendency for dull matchups and the reputation of Thursday Night Football as a cash grab by the league are among the arguments for ditching Thursday Night Football entirely.

Injury Concerns

Football is an extremely physical game, consisting of men who exceed 300 pounds tackling each other. Players typically take a beating each week, understandably sore after each game, which tends to last around three hours. With the majority of games taking place on Sunday, a Thursday night game gives players a mere four days to prepare for yet another game. A few teams have been fortunate enough to play a Thursday night game following a bye week. Nonetheless, the majority of Thursday Night Football participants are not so lucky to have a week or more off before playing on Thursday night.

This past November, former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman ruptured his Achilles in a Thursday night game against the Arizona Cardinals. Sherman, an integral defensive player manning a highly physical coverage role, last played a mere four days prior, against the Redskins that previous Sunday. Sherman felt the severity of his injury immediately, telling teammates on the sideline he is out for the year.

This same Thursday night game, six other Seahawks players suffered an injury, including Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor. Also in the same game, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks coaching staff drew criticism for not having him undergo the concussion protocol despite a very hard hit.

The 2017 NFL season saw a surge in players headed to the injured reserve, with the number of injured reserve players increasing since 2015. Many fans, players and coaches alike point to the ridiculously small window between Sunday and Thursday as a contributing factor, with the format giving players a lack of preparation time while interfering with the consistency in their workouts and conditioning.

Dull Matchups

There's always a handful of gems each year on Thursday Night Football, though for the most part fans feel like they are witnessing a second-rate matchup on Thursday nights. Some of the biggest blowouts tend to occur on Thursday nights, which for any fan beyond the massacring teams is a boring affair to watch.

Additionally, there are fewer touchdowns scored on Thursday Night Football comparative to Sundays. Over one season, Thursday Night Football tends to average 13 total touchdowns less than Sunday counterparts. Fans love seeing touchdowns, so it's another fuel to the fire of why the NFL should ditch Thursday Night Football: fans simply are not as interested in low-scoring games.

Plus, the injury concerns and a tendency for subpar games on Thursday Night Football does not do much in helping promote football for the youth, especially since Thursday Night Football starts so late at night. Youth football equipment has gotten much safer over the years, but TNF isn't going to get them pumped to play if they're in bed by the second quarter.

An NFL Cash Grab?

Finally, fans feel like Thursday Night Football is nothing more than a cash grab for the NFL, knowing that Thursdays present an additional revenue opportunity for viewership. Sundays and Mondays feature NFL football, though there are so many games on Sundays that fans tend to choose what to watch. On a Thursday, with only one game and not much else on, fans are likely to watch an NFL game, which means revenue for the NFL despite concerns about player safety and general game quality.

Thursday Night Football has the occasional great game, though in reality that outlier is not worth the risk of injury and resulting negative perceptions of the game from aspiring, younger players.

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