Thursday Night NFL Games Unlikely To Disappear Despite Cries Of Sloppy Games
The expanded slate of Thursday night NFL games this season has been “less than stellar," but "like it or not ... Thursday games aren’t going anywhere,” according to a sports section cover story by Mike Garafolo of USA TODAY. The matchups have generated "low ratings, sloppy football, uncompetitive games, struggling road teams and rosters depleted by injuries on short weeks" despite efforts by the NFL to "schedule more geographically friendly meetings and divisional matchups.” Ravens S Ed Reed said, “If they are really concerned about the violence and injuries and players getting hurt, answer this question for me, and I’m going to leave y’all with this: Why is there Thursday night football?” Goodell said, "We don't have any information that playing on Thursdays decreases the safety of our players. I think you start with the facts, and the facts are that's not a risk to our players." Garafolo reports players, even some “who dislike playing on a short week, appreciate the chance to play on a national stage.” Still, the questions that arise are “about health concerns as well as the quality of football.” Garafolo notes one idea “being mentioned to address rest issues is whether the league should give each team two bye weeks per season, with one of them coming the week before a Thursday night game” (USA TODAY, 12/13).
RATINGS JUMP FOR THURSDAY GAMES: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand reports Thursday night games on NFL Network expanded from eight to 13 games this season, and the "game ratings are up over last year.” Given that game ratings for the NFL’s other TV carriers are “holding steady, there’s no incentive for the NFL to cut back on weeknight games.” The NFL has “used its prime-time games as a selling point in getting distribution by cable TV operators for NFL Network,” and the increased game schedule “helped it raise its household reach to about 71 million from about 58 million a year ago.” The league someday “might sell rights to Thursday night games to a network.” But NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp has said that the game will “stay on NFL Network for years to come” (USA TODAY, 12/13).