Thursday Night Football is arguably every team and fans’ most dreaded game. Players don’t have enough time to recover from the previous weekend’s exertions. That’s why they call on the NFL to get rid of it. They can also be terrible for stadium fans because it’s difficult to travel during the week.
Commissioner Roger Goodell resists because it’s worth so much money. However, TNF continuously gets worse every year. Let’s look at 25 reasons why the NFL should get rid of Thursday Night Football. This affects everyone from the athletes to the paying fans. Check out the list below via SB Nation.
25. Short Turnaround
First, players don’t receive enough recovery time between games. This is the main reason why they are against Thursday Night Football. So many athletes suffer injuries and strains because they have overexerted bodies. But the NFL doesn’t care about this at all (via CBS Local).
Richard Sherman’s Achilles injury in 2017 brought this into focus but it’s an annual occurrence. If a team plays on Sunday or Monday night, they won’t have full contract practice until Tuesday or Wednesday. Then, they need another day of rest before the game. TNF is disruptive because of the toll it takes on players’ bodies.
Another reason to get rid of TNF is that the product is below par. Everybody wants to watch the best football games possible. However, players aren’t in a position to perform at their optimum. We talked about a lack of recovery time leading to more injuries but it also reduces the quality on the field.
Sports Illustrated described how TNF games in 2016 were usually decided by a margin of at least two touchdowns. In short, they were routs because one team was always underprepared and tired. Also, the Vegas underdog only won twice, which was far below the average success rate of 39%.
Most fans want to see the best teams competing for the Super Bowl in February. But TNF can provide a major stumbling block. For example, in 2021, the Rams and Seahawks clashed on a Thursday night. Both of their quarterbacks had injuries.
Matt Stafford, who has revitalized the Rams’ offense (via Fox Sports), had a thumb issue. Perennial MVP contender Russell Wilson tore a tendon in his middle finger among other injuries and required surgery. He will be out for 6-8 weeks. Needless to say, losing a key player like this because of a lack of recovery affects a team’s season.
Another issue is that TNF clashes with a lot of high school games across the nation. Firstly, this is idiotic from a rating perspective. It makes sense that the people who like football also play the sport. Usually, a youngster’s parents will watch them play for their school (via Clarion-Ledger).
This means that a whole household is away from their TV set for the evening. Even if they’re not playing a game, they may have to practice or other commitments. It’s also unfair on communities to make people choose between staying at home and watching the NFL or going to see a high school game.
Thursday is a solid day. It doesn’t need football to make it better. Just think about it for a moment because it makes sense. Firstly, Sunday is the weekend. It’s the time to chill out and enjoy yourself. Football only enhances that experience because it gives fans time to dedicate themselves to their team.
Monday Night Football is enjoyable after the longest workday of the week (via USA Today). But Thursday is fine. After all, tomorrow is Friday. Many people will go out so they don’t want to stay up late and watch a game. The NFL should get rid of it because nobody will miss it.
Road teams only win 36% of TNF games (via SBNation). That’s a damning statistic and shows why the NFL needs to get rid of it. It’s unfair for one team to have to sacrifice another portion of their already shortened preparation to travel across the country.
The advantage is disproportionate because not everybody experiences the same situation over the course of the season. If the NFL forced both teams to play at a neutral venue it would remove this from the equation. But that’s never going to happen so it’s easier to scrap this unwanted game.
Fans love their Fantasy Football. But for a lot of players, TNF is a frustrating antagonist. That’s because so many people forget to update their teams before the deadline. Obviously, the NFL isn’t going to get rid of the fixture because of some online fans (via Bleacher Report).
But there are millions of Fantasy Football users and it infuriates them when a stupid reason like TNF makes them drop points. They hate the irregular nature of the fixture because it’s too easy to miss it. That’s why most FF players would immediately drop it from the calendar.
It’s easy to forget but the NFL originally brought in TNF to work against the TV networks. In short, they frightened the major networks like Fox and NBC into thinking that the NFL could go it alone. As a result, they forced them into spending more money and committing to more games.
According to the Guardian, Thursday Night Football was never about creating event football. No, the NFL introduced it because they wanted to beat TV executives into submission. There is no doubt that they succeeded because they’ve never made more money. Now is the time to move on and get rid of it.
The NFL might not like it but there is more to life than football. Fans have other interests and commitments. They may want to watch NBA games or catch up on their favorite TV shows. Some of them like to do things with their families or play sports. The list is endless because that’s life (via Sporting News).
Thursday Night Football is simply too much for a lot of fans to invest in. Yes, they’ll sit down and watch it if they’re free. But the chance of them putting time aside especially for a game is lower unless they’re a diehard fan. That’s why ratings are lower. The NFL should get rid of it because there are plenty of lucrative alternatives.
If the NFL isn’t going to get rid of TNF, they can always try to make it better. One way to do this is to extend the league to 18 weeks and add a bye before the Thursday games. The main reason people complain about TNF is because of player welfare, so this is a simple way to knock that on the head.
An extra week isn’t going to ruin the NFL calendar. This is the modern world and sports are constantly evolving. Fans will also appreciate football more when they miss their team for a week (via CBS Sports). It may actually increase viewership figures because they are desperate to see their franchise in action again.
Oversaturation is a major issue because of the nature of NFL games. The league is unique because every week feels special. The relatively short regular season forces fans to treat each game as an event. But if games come too quickly or often, this won’t be the same. That’s one reason to get rid of TNF.
Even FOX CEO James Murdoch believes there’s an oversaturated market. “There’s a question mark for the NFL, which is just to think hard about how they’re licensing,” he said (via USA Today). “So I do think the proliferation of Thursday availability – and the proliferation of football generally – does mean that you’re asking a lot from customers to watch Thursday.”
According to Ticketmaster, the average dedicated NFL fan travels 296 miles for an away game during the regular season (via New York Post). This is obviously much easier to do on a Sunday or even a Monday because they have time for the journey. However, Thursday Night Football isn’t as convenient.
Monday is better because fans can take a long weekend. But Thursdays totally disrupt the week. It’s a major commitment to attend an away game because it takes so much time. Many fans want the NFL to get rid of TNF because they can’t travel to watch their team.
Everybody thinks about player welfare, but what about the coaches? They have to create a different game plan for every team they face. However, their ability to do this for TNF is diminished. Of course, all of the coaches are in the same situation, but it still affects what fans witness on the field.
“You just can’t put a complete, solid game plan in to take advantage of weaknesses in the other team,” former NFL receiver Troy Brown said (via NBC Boston). “You wanna take player safety out of it? Just look at the fact you have one-and-a-half days to prepare for your opponent. You can’t replicate quality with a short week. No way you can do that.”
Unless you’re a Detroit or Chicago fan you don’t want to watch these two teams play on a Thursday night. The NFL should be more selective about its TNF fixtures. By reducing the number of games and picking marquee match-ups, fans will become more invested (via Washington Post).
For example, nobody will miss a game like the Chiefs vs. the Bills. So if the NFL doesn’t want to get rid of it, they should try to maximize its potential. Fans will grumble that the game is on a Thursday but they’ll tune in anyway because of the game’s importance.
Shockingly, fans don’t appreciate staying up all night to watch commercials. One of the big criticisms of Thursday Night Football was the advertisement aspect. The NFL made a concerted effort to reduce this since 2017 but it still detracts from the overall experience.
“To my surprise last year, we put some more commercialization in there — there were some more spots in that I was not aware of and we saw that and we’re going to get that back out of the game,” Goodell told NBC Sports. “So many mentions that are not related to the game on the field, we’re going to reduce that, we’re going to take that out.”
Let’s not pretend that the NFL cares about anything except money. But there is a way that they can use this to their advantage. Instead of forcing teams to play on a Thursday night, they could increase the number of overseas games. This is something the NFL wants to do anyway, but it would be very lucrative (via Yahoo Sports).
The Jaguars already commit to regular games in London but there are massive opportunities for many franchises. Germany is one of the biggest consumers of NFL games outside of the U.S. so it makes sense for teams to venture there. It would increase the profile of the league on a global level while also bringing in millions of dollars.
There is an obvious solution to the TNF problem. Simply get rid of it and create a Monday doubleheader to make everybody will be happy. It won’t take away from the event nature of NFL games because more people have time on Mondays than in the middle of the week. Many NFL analysts advocate this move because it makes sense.
If they put one game at 5:00 p.m. (ET) and another at 8:15, it will be suitable for all areas of the country. It removes short weeks for teams and increases the quality of football. Meanwhile, it makes Mondays better when fans return to work after the weekend (via NBC Sports).
As long as Goodell continues to line his pockets with millions of dollars, he doesn’t really care about much else. In fact, he’s prepared to blatantly lie about the quality of the game because he doesn’t want to lose it. “Almost by every barometer, the quality of the game is better on Thursday night,” Goodell claimed (via SBNation).
We’ve already described how this isn’t true. Firstly, the games are less competitive because one team is always more tired than the other. The injury rate is much higher than from other games because of the lower recovery time. In sum, his greed and audacity are almost mesmerizing.
In 2018, Goodell tried to claim that there was no evidence that TNF was less safe than regular NFL fixtures. He claimed, “Out of those four years (2014-18) only this year slowed a slight uptick, which was not even statistically significant. If you take the period, the injury rate is low. So we do not think that is something we need to overreact to (via ESPN).”
However, this didn’t take into account the impact that TNF had on the following game. The Commissioner manipulated the statistics to try to prove his point. But the fact is that every player knows that TNF is more likely to leave wear and tear on their bodies than other games.
NFL players loath Thursday Night Football because they know it’s a risk every time they step onto the field. They want to be in the best shape possible both physically and mentally before risking their health. It’s unfair to cut their preparation short because it leaves them vulnerable.
Former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light played in several TNF games. “You’re sacrificing your preparation and recovery time,” Light told USA Today. “And on a short week, there’s no real incentive to get dialed in.” In the end, if the players don’t want it, the NFL should get rid of it.
While many people complain about TNF, nobody wants to get rid of Thanksgiving Day Football. In fact, removing the former would actually make Turkey Day even more special. Every year millions of Americans lie back in a food-induced coma and enjoy the games (via SBNation).
Nobody thinks of Thanksgiving as a regular TNF game. If the NFL removed regular Thursday night games from the calendar it would only enhance the status of the national holiday. The players would even enjoy it more because it would feel like even more of an honor to play on the big day.
Let’s be real, the NFL won’t get rid of Thursday Night Football because it’s too lucrative. There are one billion reasons why they want to keep it. That’s the amount of money that Amazon agreed to fork out for exclusive TV rights (via CNBC). Yes, they shelled out that insane number on the worst NFL games.
The NFL has never cared about player welfare, so why should they change the habit of a lifetime? Furthermore, they have exploited the goodwill of fans for decades. Unless it affects their bottom line, they’re not going to remove TNF or change it. That’s because it’s just worth too many dollars.
Fewer people watch TNF than ever before. If the ratings keep dropping, the networks might decide that it’s time to get rid of it. Ratings dropped by four percent in 2020 despite the global health crisis that saw many people spend more time at home. But they chose other avenues for their entertainment.
Furthermore, there is an inherent issue because of the number of games spread across FOX, NFL Network, and Amazon. They are in danger of losing money because everybody won’t sign up for all three platforms. TNF doesn’t help with this because the quality of match-ups doesn’t inspire loyal viewership (via Sportscasting).
Networks and executives tried to point the finger at the players for the decline in TNF ratings. ESPN’s Darren Rovell wrote, “Twenty-six percent of those who watched fewer games last season said that national anthem protests, some of which were led by Colin Kaepernick, were the reason (via The Undefeated).”
Firstly, this was misleading because the survey Rovell quoted revealed that only three percent of fans tuned out because of anthem protests. In short, he lied to his readers. Meanwhile, an increasing number aren’t paying for cable TV while others simply don’t have time for TNF because it’s a bad product.
This isn’t a new conversation. Every season since 2012, fans and players complain about this fixture. But as long as NFL executives fill their pockets it’s not going anywhere. The only way to make them listen is to stop tuning in because that will make the networks listen.
Of course, the league doesn’t care because they make a fortune from this typically ugly game of football. However, it’s high time that they did something to maximize the fan experience and improve conditions for their players. The NFL must pick their battles because recent civil rights issues show that the players will take a stand at some point (via Boston Globe).