Whether you have played the game or not, it is not hard to see that football is a violent sport. Football players put their bodies on the line every time that they step on the field. A number of players suffer serious injuries throughout a season that can alter careers. With all of the hard hits being taken, one would assume that the National Football League would be willing to give their players sufficient time to heal between each game.
Well, that’s not the case.
Since the 2012 season, all 32 NFL teams have been forced to play at least one of their games on Thursday night. Prior to 2012, there were only a handful of games per season played on Thursday (including Thanksgiving), but in 2012 the NFL decided to have at least one game per week played on Thursday Night, with an exception in the last week of the regular season.
On Sunday, Nov. 27, a report by NBC’s Mike Florio speculated that the NFL would consider doing away with Thursday Night Football due to the decreasing ratings. On Monday, a league representative responded to the report, saying that the NFL has no plans to cancel or reduce Thursday Night Football.
Even though every team plays no more than two games on Thursday night per season, most players would probably prefer to not play any of their games on Thursday. Giving football players only four days to rest their bodies is simply not a reasonable time frame.
Two high school football players agreed that on average it took about three days to physically heal from a game. Both of these men played at skill positions (running back, wide receiver, for example), and were getting hit several times throughout a game. If they took a helmet to the leg, for example, it could take longer than three days for that leg to start feeling normal again.
Three days was the average amount of time for a high school player to recover. Imagine how NFL players in their late 20’s and early 30’s feel after only four days of rest.
Just two weeks ago, in a Thursday Night match-up between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly took a big hit when trying to tackle Saints running back Tim Hightower. The hit did not appear to be that hard, but Kuechly’s helmet brushed Hightower’s and that of Panthers teammate Thomas Davis Sr.
After the play, Kuechly remained on the field until Carolina trainers got to him. Kuechly took his helmet off, and appeared to be hyperventilating. He ended up being carted off of the field with tears in his eyes. It was later revealed that he had suffered a concussion.
Concussions do not usually end with a player being carted off the field. Usually, a player can gather their thoughts and walk off the field after a minute or two. Kuechly had suffered a previous concussion in the 2015 season. Given Kuechly’s previous encounter with the infamous head injury, was four days of rest enough for him to fully recover?
It is no secret that the NFL has had its issues with concussions, so much so that it has gotten to the point that defensive players can no longer lead with their helmet when making a tackle. With all of the lawsuits former NFL players are issuing the league, I find it surprising that the NFL continues to treat their players like pieces of meat. Only giving them a half week to recover from a Sunday game to then play on Thursday is ludicrous.
But hey, money talks.
A number of players and coaches have previously expressed their frustration with having to play on Thursday night. Seattle Seahawks corner-back Richard Sherman has been one of the most vocal players to express his opinion on the matter. Sherman feels that the league is contradicting itself by having their players perform with less than four days of rest.
With all of the rule changes the NFL has made for “player safety,” Thursday Night Football refutes every effort the league has made to better protect it’s players.
Having football on prime-time three nights a week instead of two is obviously a revenue booster. However, it is a shame that the NFL is thinking about money before its players. Its a mindset that has been in the league for a long time, and that mindset is not going away anytime soon.