Thursday night football

Via Awful Announcing, lots of players appear to be very unhappy with Thursday night football.

Players don’t like the quick turnaround time and there have been lots of complaints about the relatively poor quality of play. Up to now, with games broadcast on the NFL Network, the league isn’t making a ton of money on the games. But if, as has been floated as a possibility, the NFL opened up the bidding to other networks, the windfall could be significant.

Consequently, AA’s Brad Gagnon writes:

The evil empires will likely win this battle, if it ever even becomes a battle. That’s the sad reality. Smart fans realize the Thursday product is watered down and the players and coaches seem to despise it, but until we can prove that players are seriously in peril by playing in these games on short rest — and right now, it appears we can’t — we’re all stuck with them.

Unless we the viewers stop tuning in. It wouldn’t be tough to start this week, with the 2-10 Texans taking on the 3-9 Jaguars in the league’s dullest market, a matchup that could produce the lowest ratings in series history.

When League of Denial – the book and the companion documentary on PBS – came out in October, there was lots of discussion for a few days about concussions, CTE and associated health risks connected to football. Unsurprisingly, though, that didn’t last. Since October, a number of high profile former players, including Tony Dorsett, have come forward to say that they have symptoms associated with degenerative brain disease. Whether these are the result of CTE itself – identifying that specific illness in living individuals remains uncertain – there is mounting evidence of serious, long-term neurological problems associated with playing football.

The public’s appetite for this story will continue to be limited. The long-term consequences for the sport itself must await more definitive science on the relationship between head trauma and playing football as well as decisions by parents about whether to let their kids play the game from an early age.

But it is fair to ask whether the NFL could use a precautionary principle here, at least occasionally forgoing opportunities for more revenue – they are making a ton of money already, after all – for the sake of player well-being.


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