Can’t imagine many players or even coaches are too happy about this news, but starting next season we will see Thursday Night Football early as week two. The main goal in Commissioner Roger Goodell’s eyes appears to be to get every team in the NFL exposure on primetime television throughout the season. All 32 teams will play at least one game on Thursday Night, including all playing at least one of those games following a Sunday game.
OOUCH! At his “State of the NFL” conference earlier Friday this was one of several topics Mr. Goodell discussed, though to me one that may see positive and negative reactions on both spectrums of the NFL. From the fans like myself who will undoubtedly be excited to see an explosive offensive team like the Carolina Panthers get a chance to play on NFL Network, to the players on the team who may not be as excited about playing again on a short week after a rough Sunday. The responses throughout will always have both. The conference is an annual event held by the Commissioner in the days leading to the Super Bowl. The Thursday Night games will not take away from the other primetime games played on Sunday and Monday nights by mostly playoff teams from the previous season.
For a young team coming into the 2012 NFL regular season should look at this as a great opportunity for exposure. The Carolina Panthers included. With an average age of under 25 and a QB like Cam Newton the Panthers are a team who I see being a big part in the future of the league. The Thursday Night games will only add to the publicity and image that owner Jerry Richardson is dying to bring back to Charlotte. Early on in their expansion years both Carolina and Jacksonville experienced moderate success. Carolina more so in recent memory with the success John Fox had. Never did they win a Super Bowl but where on the cusp, losing to New England 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVII (38). The style of football he plays and the player that Cameron Newton is attracts fans and bandwagon jumpers alike. Both, along with big wins and upsets on those Thursday Nights of course, would be things that brought back that passion felt for a great football franchise in North Carolina. A state whose previous success was short lived.
A negative that most players and coaches may feel is the short week of prep they will have. If a team plays in San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon, then has a Thursday Night Game in New York the following week, this leaves a very short time between for preparation. It should not be something that happens that way each week but you can bet that some teams throughout the season will be faced with that obstacle of playing on a Thursday Night after little time to get ready. It will also go as a benefit in the sense that after that Thursday game you will have three to four extra days off compared to the one or two if you consistently played every Sunday. Just is the case for injuries. Playing in the NFL you are taking the chance of serious injury every time you step on the field. The added games to Thursday Nights should not increase the amount of injuries overall in the season, but one thing it may do is increase the risk for injury in those unprepared to play in such a quick turnaround.
One thing I would hope is included in this deal of more Thursday Night games is to keep them flexible towards seasons end. I know it would be quite difficult to keep a Thursday Night game flexible at season end but who wants to watch two teams that have no playoff shot or even a chance at preventing one. Case and point, the last few seasons the later Thursday Night games in the season where not worth watching. Though I’m sure the NFL did not anticipate Peyton Manning not playing all season when they scheduled the game, the Texans @ Colts game Thursday Dec 22nd was one that had no significance. Yes, like I said, I know they were scheduled prior to the season starting. However if the games were kept flexible, similar to how the games on Sundays towards seasons end are, we may have seen a more competitive meaningful game. (Perhaps a 48-16 mugging the Bucs took from Carolina that same week 16 would have been more entertaining)
Either way, because it will mean more work in less time for every team, this will be seen negative by some players and some teams. That’s ok, because it’s clear that Roger Goodell knows what makes the NFL go round. And believe it or not it is the FANS. So in that case more Thursday Night games will only bring more coverage and exposure to teams overall, some who desperately need it. Geez, in Jacksonville they should be real happy, if only they played every Thursday in primetime they might never have a Blackout game again. But joking aside, there are not too many negatives to having more NFL to watch during the week…………. At least to a fan!
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