While the games that have been played on Thursday night in the NFL aren’t exactly the greatest match-ups(just look at the explosive Jacksonville vs Houston game tonight), it is a big win for the league, the owners, and the fans. Football is the top dog of all sports in this country, and we cannot get enough of it. Of course, this is at the cost of the players having to recover and prepare themselves on short rest, because most played on the Sunday prior. With the NFL’s focus and mission on player safety, playing with such a quick turnaround seems counterproductive, especially to the players themselves.
Players have stated they are not fans of these games, it is now that they are becoming more vocal. Reggie Bush of the Detroit Lions, who is getting more work than he ever has since entering the league, voiced his displeasure (via CBS Detroit) and made a somewhat accurate comparison of what football is like on the body, and how difficult it is to play another game so quickly:
“I’m not a huge fan of it,” Bush said. “We don’t get a lot of time for our bodies to recover. Football games – I always try to relate them to for the average person – it’s just like being in a car crash. Like literally every time you’re getting hit is like being in a car crash. Imagine as a running back you’re getting hit – I touched the ball at least 20 to 30 times a game, that’s 20 to 30 car crashes you’re in in two hours. It’s tough to get your body back ready that quick for a game on Thursday.”
Bush is accurate in that playing in a football is similar to a car wreck, his numbers are slightly off. A study conducted in 2004 at Virginia Tech concluded that 30-50 hits to the head with an NFL helmet, was like the impact of a car accident. This was still years before the head trauma and concussion issue became a concern for the NFL. Obviously, the players most likely to sustain this many blows are that of those that play on the offensive and defensive line. It also doesn’t take into consideration the rest of the impact on the body. There is nothing that one can compare taking a blow to the chest or lower body. However, that type of brutality cannot be minimized, either.
Duane Brown of the Texans was more direct about the hypocrisy if Roger Goodell and the league, while speaking to Sports Illustrated:
“You talk about player safety, but you want to extend the season and add Thursday games?” Brown told SI.com. “It’s talking out of both sides of your mouth.”
The extending of the season is the NFL’s desire to add two more games to their slate. The only reason for this is to increase revenue, and that is always the NFL’s reason. It is a money-making machine. The NFL gets a ton of money by having games featured on Thursday night, and adding additional games would increase their bottom-line as well. Also, don’t think that the NFL claiming player safety is altruistic. It is about covering their butt, especially with their suit with former players all settled up. The NFL does not want to be shelling out money, and they do not want to lose fans to anything. It is a smoke and mirrors game in which they execute flawlessly with the casual observer.
The easy thing to do is to point a finger at the player and claim that they make millions of dollars and they have a right to walk away if they do not like it. This is true, however, they also have the right to voice their displeasure with their working conditions, just like the guy making $7.25 an hour does. It simply isn’t healthy to have that kinda quick turnaround. We fans expect them to play through pain, because it has been ingrained in us, especially men, to not be a wuss. That is 10-fold in the NFL.
Don’t take me as a player apologist, because I am not. I saw no good reason for players to get the kinda offseason they now have. To not have to go to no impact workouts months after the previous season and still months before the new season, is a bit ridiculous. It is one thing if a player is recovering from injury, but some just don’t feel it necessary to earn that check when games aren’t involved. Ultimately, I see that coming back to bite the players when the NFL gets their extra games. Wouldn’t they rather workout and get the same pay, and not be in two more accidents without additional pay?
Bottom-line is this, yes Thursday night games are great for everyone that isn’t playing. But though the players have a contention that the owners are hypocrites, so are they. Ultimately, this isn’t going to change, outside of a players strike when the collective-bargaining agreement has to be negotiated, again. Until then, any gripes will fall of deaf ears.