-- by @Josh_Suchon
Watching an entire game of Thursday Night Football isn’t easy. Overwhelmingly, it’s one of the sloppiest games of the week. It’s understandable too. It’s a brutal schedule that the NFL shouldn’t subject its players, especially the visiting teams:
Sunday: play a game (and maybe fly home)
Monday: go over the last game film, heal/rest
Tuesday: put in a game plan, prepare for new opponent
Wednesday: travel and probably a light walk-through
Thursday: play another game
It’s no wonder energy levels are so low, mistakes are common, late comebacks are rare, the visiting team rarely wins, and the injury risk is so high.
Here’s two quick steps to save Thursday Night Football:
1. Add a second bye week to every team’s schedule.
These two simple moves will increase the quality of the game, alleviate the risk of injury, add more football to the audience’s insatiable viewing calendar, and generate more TV revenue.
For a few years now, the NFL has considered increasing the regular season to 18 games. More games means more content, which means more money. Most players and fans are against it.
By adding a second bye week, you add more content without asking more from the players – or season ticket holders. You’ve now got an 18-week schedule. There would be fewer games each weekend, because there are more byes, but that just means more attention to each game.
Besides, the NFL is so masterful at creating intriguing matchups each week, all this really means is less chaos on the Red Zone channel for the early games.
The mandatory bye week before Thursday Night Football means players are more rested, coaching staffs have more time to prepare, more anticipation is built, and the quality of the game increases.
The second bye week gives players more time to heal injuries throughout the season. In an age with so much emphasis on concussion protocol, giving players more time to recover from all injuries is good for business, and good for the quality of the product.
One bye would be in the first nine weeks. The second bye week would be during the next nine weeks. The computers can space out the byes equally.
Changing the calendar is minimal. You can start the season one week earlier – the same week that college football starts – and still finish with the Super Bowl at the same time.
Seriously, there’s no drawback. So what if we get 10 games on Sunday’s instead of 14? That makes it easier to pay attention to every game.
The only real losers are employers who will get one less week of production from their employees because they are constantly checking their fantasy football teams on company time.
Networks get another week of games to televise, without losing anything. Advertisers get more airtime to push their message. The league can charge more for the rights because there’s another week. The players get more time to rest, mentally and physically, to make themselves healthier and make the games better.
These two simple tasks are a victory for everybody.