TFG Commentary: Why Thursday Night Football is Not Must See TV
By: The Football Girl | Posted: June 29, 2011
If you’re like me, your Thursday nights are in danger of extending well into the wee hours come the fall of 2012. That’s because shows like Parks and Rec, 30 Rock and Grey’s Anatomy (sadly, sans Patrick Dempsey) are going to temporarily hang out on the DVR so the NFL can add a little pocket change to their already $9 billion revenue.
Other than the light at the end of the lockout tunnel peeking through just a little bit, the big negotiation news this week is that the NFL wants to make Thursday Night Football a sixteen-week affair. The going price is supposedly somewhere in the $700 million range, and according to Sports Business Journal, Comcast and Turner have already expressed interest. This will be happening folks.
Let’s face it – this news affects fans much more than how the ginormous revenue pie is ultimately split. Some may say more TNF is a welcome relief from the saturation of games that hits us on Sundays at 1 PM ET. I personally don’t mind trading the knots that develop in my neck from frantically watching nine games at once for an exhilarating three hours that can’t be matched. I love it and have no desire to replace my California Screamin’ with Thunder Mountain. Nor do I ever want to be faced with the notion that NFL Network’s Scott Hanson is actually not superhuman which is a real danger if you dock one game from his early Sunday dance card.
And what about that another sport? I’m not a college football junkie because of the absurd BCS, but there is some nervy infringing going on here. Aren’t Thursday nights reserved for Big East games or ACC games or spending multiple hours trying to remember who’s in the Big East and the ACC? I admit I’d be sent straight to conference remedial school if ever quizzed on the subject.
Really those most adversely affected here are the players and coaches. For those that don’t know, here’s a typical NFL team weekly schedule: Monday – review film, Tuesday: off day (player promotional events and appearances), Wednesday and Thursday: full workout/studying film of upcoming opponents/media obligations, Friday: walk-through/travel, Saturday: travel/meet with networks/more film study, Sunday: game day. How does a team fully prepare to play on Thursday night? Simply put: it’s impossible.
A lazy player may embrace the short week, but playing on Thursday is worse than trekking to Wembley Stadium. At least Monday Night Football is MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL so there’s some glitz and glam benefit to the compact week. But playing for the Versus audience? Exactly. (If I were copying Grantland.com, which I’m not, I’d insert a footnote here informing you that Versus is a television network owned by Comcast that airs the NHL but is much better known for being the former employer of Jenn Sterger)
In a perfect world, Thursday night games would be scheduled for teams coming off byes. But bye weeks involve anywhere from 3-6 teams being off and don't kick off until Week 5 this season. So a sorry team or two will be stuck on Thursday night at least twice. That alone is unfair. There will also be a plethora of missed off-the-field opportunities for players, much of which happens on Thursdays.
But the sad thing here is no one is asking for more days of the NFL. We have the perfect amount of weeks. The perfect amount of games of Thanksgiving. The perfect amount of Monday Night Football games on opening weekend (well, maybe not that).
And don’t forget about us fantasy saps. Thursdays in the first half of the season are reserved for reading fantasy advice, working the waivers and setting those lineups with tightly crossed fingers. By the second half, many of us are out of contention, so sure, bring on the Bills/Dolphins a few days early.
This whole sixteen Thursday night games business just reeks of greediness. Just like the eighteen game proposal does did. Stop tinkering with a product that works beautifully. That goes for you too players who have remained silent since the idea has been floated out this week. You don't really support this, can you? Oh wait, there's a little less than $350 million in it for you guys too.
This new proposal is a perfect example of why fans consider the lockout to be an inaccessible argument between “millionaires vs. billionaires” that takes them for granted.