Thursday Night Football

A headline at this morning says:

Arian Foster rips ‘Thursday Night Football:’ No one likes it

Recently, Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Numbers game: If the string of lopsided scores from the NFL Thursday night games is any indication, the mystical forces that control the football cosmos strongly disapprove of the new prime-time CBS package. Through five games, the average margin of victory has been 29 points, with no result closer than 20 points.”

I do not have a direct line to the inner sanctum of the football gods, but Arian Foster and Bob Molinaro are both onto something here. The Thursday Night Games so far this year have been laughers; the “tightest game” was the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game where the score was deceptively close at 26-6. Here are a couple of Arian Foster’s comments about Thursday Night Football:

“Thursday Night Football is pretty annoying for players. I don’t know one player that likes it. I really don’t know a fan that likes it, either. I think it’s just the league’s way to try to generate more revenue, but that’s what they are here for.”


“Nobody is ready to play physically after a Sunday game but you have to go out there and do it.”

I guess the reason Arian Foster thinks fans do not like Thursday Night Football is because he has never met the ten million or so fans who tune in to watch those games on CBS and/or NFLN. However, I can certainly believe his two points that players do not like Thursday games and that many players are not physically recovered from the previous Sunday games when Thursday rolls around. The NFL itself provides some evidence for that last point.

More than a few times during the season, a player cannot practice during the week but recovers sufficiently to play on Sunday. Most – if not all – of them would not be able to play on Thursday night without putting their well-being at greater risk than normal. The NFL injury reports and the media coverage of teams and their practices tell us this.

Foster was asked why he did not voice his complaint to the NFLPA and his response was interesting:

“The union and the league is kind of the same thing.”

Well, I am not the same as the union or the league and so let me offer a possible path toward resolving this issue:

    Every team that plays a Thursday game will have a Bye Week the week before that game. Therefore, every player will have 10 days to recover/prepare for a Thursday game.

    That means every team will need 2 Bye Weeks during the season and to accommodate that, the regular season would be extended to 18 weeks (but would stay at 16 games).

    Players and coaches should like the extra time to prepare; the league and the union should like the extra revenue that another week of NFL games on TV will generate; the networks should like another week of highly rated programming; the fans should like being able to see more regular season games over a longer period of time. Only the folks in the scheduling department might dislike this idea because it would complicate their job ever so slightly.

Foster’s comments are timely because the Texans and the Colts are the Thursday Night Game this week…

While I am on the subject of making changes for the NFL, may I suggest a different way for the league to keep track of return yards? Consider the following scenario:

    Team A kicks off to Team B. The ball goes five yards deep into the end zone and Team B’s returner does not take a knee; he returns the kickoff.

    Team A covers the kick well and the returner is tackled at the 12-yardline.

    The current return stat would credit the returner with a 17-yard return. In reality, what he did was to cost Team B 8 yards of field position. Had he just refused to run the ball, Team B would have had the ball at the 20-yardline. Somewhere, the league should account for that kind of hidden yardage within a game and report it. If the returner gets the ball out to the 27-yardline, he should get credit for a 32 yard return and get a “plus 7” for field position as a result of his return. In my original example, the returner would get a “minus 8″ for field position.

It would be a new stat and it would be one that cannot be applied retroactively to previous games for at least 2 reasons:

    1. It would be more work than it is worth to go through NFL video archives and do the calculations for previous games.

    2. There are too many NFL games for which there is no video or film record and so the calculation for those games would be impossible.

Nevertheless, I would like to see the league begin to record this stat.

Finally, Bob Molinaro writes for the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot but is a Baltimorean by heritage. It should please him to realize that one of his recent items proves a point made by the Bard of Baltimore, H. L. Mencken:

“No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American Public.” [Mencken]


“Dollar signs: Derek Jeter’s career may be over, but the marketing of his image continues, right down to the selling of Jeter game-used dirt. Steiner Sports, the Yankees and Jeter are making available plaques that include a capsule of infield dirt from Yankee Stadium that Jeter allegedly walked on. But if that doesn’t intrigue you, you might be interested in Jeter game-used socks – only $409.99 per sock.” [Molinaro]

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………