At 1500ESPN, Matthew Coller suggests a (pretty obvious) solution to the NFL’s ongoing problem with Thursday Night Football:
On Nov. 20, the Minnesota Vikings had the type of game that turns a season around: A 30-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals at US Bank Stadium. On Nov. 24, they were on the road playing on national TV against the Detroit Lions. The Vikings lost a hideous, good-thing-you-didn’t-pay-to-watch-that-one game in the Motor City by three points. The game essentially cost them a shot at winning the NFC Central.
It’s hard to take that result seriously.
There are several lenses in which we can look through when discussing the misguided way the league has implemented Thursday games. The first is player safety. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman recently attacked the hypocrisy of the league claiming the game is safer, then pushing players back on the field without proper time to heal.
He wrote on the Player’s Tribune:
“I just don’t understand why the NFL says it’s taking a stand on player safety, then increases the risks its players face by making them play on Thursday, before their bodies are ready.
My Seahawks teammates and I are playing in one of the last Thursday night games of the season this week, so we’re one of the last teams to be exploited in 2016. One of the last to be taken advantage of. One of the last to get the middle finger from the NFL.
But as long as the NFL is using that same finger to count Thursday Night Football dollars, I don’t think it really cares.”
The solution seems so easy. Why can’t TNF begin in Week 5 and have the schedule set up to give the two teams the previous week off? Bye week. Thursday night. Then 10 day break until the next game.
That scheduling tweak would almost certainly make a huge difference for the individual teams assigned to the TNF slot: it’s like a mini-bye-week.