Dunlap: Thursday Night NFL Games Are Such A Bad Idea

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) Think about this…

Have you — even once — heard an NFL coach, player or otherwise on-field member of any organization explain how much they enjoy the NFL Thursday Night Football games?

Even for a millisecond. Even one person.

I know I haven’t. All I have heard is bellyaching (rightly so) and talk about how the shortened week on the front end of the game leads to the heightened potential for injuries (rightly so) for guys who are already bruised and beaten from playing a game just a few short days ago.

These games, plainly put, need to stop.

And if Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his way, they would. With his weekly appearance on The Cook & Poni Show shifted from Tuesday to Monday because the Steelers play Thursday Night against the Titans, Big Ben used part of his platform to unload on such games.

“It’s miserable, it’s terrible, they need to get rid of this game I think,” he said. “Just play on Mondays and Sundays. It’s so tough on guys, you’re beat up, you’re banged up. It’s a very violent, physical game we play.”

Ben is right. Every single way you look at it.

The NFL is hypocritical. Every single way you look at it.

You see, this is a league that has hammered a drum for a few years now about player safety. They have told us time and again about the intensive efforts being taken to make a sport full of collisions so much safer for the combatants. But then, in one of the deepest measures of hypocrisy, the NFL has its players out there banging heads with each other just four days after their most-recently concluded contest, not offering an adequate time to heal and also, at times, eliminating the possibility that top-end players would be available. That is to say, a guy who might be able to play on a regular week of rest can’t mend up in time for the Thursday Night Game, thus, is held out by his team. To me, that isn’t giving the viewer a shot at the best possible product.

More though, it is robbing a player of the time he needs to heal up, not allowing the regular interval one is accustomed to in order to ready for their next contest.

But we all know this is about the money. This is about the revenue stream realized by the rights fees for such games; a rights fee that not realized would drive down the salary cap and turn into less money for the players.

So, make no mistake, it isn’t just the owners and networks getting rich off this.

One interesting part of the plot here is the Thursday Night Football deal is actually up after this season and has yet to be re-upped. So it can, in theory, be done away with after this regular season plays out.

Are players and owners willing to come to an agreement to cease playing these games? Are they willing to leave money on the table for the sake of a higher-quality product and, most important, player safety.

We will see.

But for me — and seemingly many others — Thursday Night Football was a nice idea to try out that has simply worn thin and should be done away with.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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