The Ravens played yesterday, and will proceed to play again on Thursday evening at Atlanta in the NFL Network’s first Thursday night telecast of the season. The way I see things, this is sort of a catch-22. On one hand, from here on out there’ll be football on Monday and Thursday nights, which is always entertaining to watch. However, I also see a huge issue with this from the perspective of players and coaches on both sides. Most teams understand that on occasion there’ll be a short week due to a Monday nighter. However that’s only really losing one day. In this case, the Ravens (and Falcons) played yesterday, which means that many players will be in for treatment today. I would suspect that both teams will forego the weekly “day off” for NFL players, which is traditionally Tuesday. In general, most teams have “walk-throughs” the day before games, however in this case I would suspect that on Wednesday both teams will have something between that and a normal practice.
In the Ravens’ case, they’ll have to travel on Wednesday evening in preparation for the game on Thursday. (I’m not sure how the Ravens are handling it, but I’ve seen teams in situations like this that will travel the morning before the game so that they can have a full practice at the actual stadium as opposed to a walk-through at their practice facility.) Obviously baseball has three-game series’ which makes teams play everyday, and basketball and hockey players sometimes have quick turn-arounds as well. However football is a bit different due to the physical nature of the sport. I’m not sure that it’s really fair to the players to have these Thursday nighters in that some guys need the entire week to get back into game shape. So in this case they have to turn around and play four days later…?
Ultimately, these leagues are about money, and the NFL knows that having Thursday night games adds to it’s bottom line. However with the above-stated point about it not being fair to players, I have to question if the fans are getting what they’re used to getting on Sundays. Some players who sustain concussions are in fact able to play the following week. However if that team had a game on Thursday as opposed to Sunday would he be allowed in the game? Survey says probably not. We’ll all watch the game because it’s the Ravens, and it’s the NFL. However if the NFL wants to protect it’s players so much, perhaps they should take a look at their scheduling techniques and decide if they’re doing more harm than good at times. As I stated above, in this case the Ravens have to travel. I would suggest that if the league wants to continue these Thursday nighters, they should try to make them “regional” games; Baltimore-Atlanta is probably a decent one in terms of mileage. However I wouldn’t see it fair for them to schedule the Ravens at the San Diego Chargers on a Thursday night, with the Ravens having to travel across the country.
On the flip side, many players and coaches have also said that these Thursday nighters are similar in nature to a second bye week. If you can make it over the hump of playing two games in half a week’s span, the players do get some time off. However my point is that I understand that the NFL wants to make money. However, if ultimately we see a 10-7 vanilla game, does that really help the product? Interestingly enough, while most NFL fans claim that they love their team playing in primetime, I would suspect that more tickets change hands for primetime games during the week (Monday or Thursday) than on Sunday afternoons. As a Washington Redskins season ticket holder, I’ll be attending next week’s Monday nighter against the Philadelphia Eagles; I’m also planning on working Monday and Tuesday. Many people sell or give away their tickets because they don’t want to take a vacation day, nor do they want to be up that late coming home. Needless to say, it’s a catch-22 one way or the other.