This Thursday night, the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills played in a game that could best be described as…well, I’m not sure. I didn’t watch it. I don’t believe too many did.
Railing against the year-long Thursday Night Football package on the NFL Network is a bit passé to say the least – the Sports Guy seems to have the market cornered anyway. And what more is there really to add?
more injury problems. Guys are forced to play 2 games within 5 days as the NFL is supposedly cracking down on player safety. It ruins fantasy matchups. It ruins gambling – the rule of thumb is basically that you need to figure out which team won’t show up, aka Carolina against the Giants.
But lost in all the derogatory, truthful things being said about the package, I have yet to come across a solution. The prevailing thought is – the games are terrible but enough people are watching and the NFL is making more money than they know what to do with. The last part is undoubtedly true. We are long past the days of a big Thursday Night game, like Packers vs. Cowboys in 2007 (the Aaron Rodgers coming out party), being unavailable to a large swath of the nation. Most people now get the NFL Network.
So are we supposed to be satisfied with this? There has to be a solution, right?
Thankfully, there is. And the NFL stumbled upon it by accident in late 2010.
The Vikings and the Eagles were supposed to play a Sunday night game that was postponed because of a blizzard. I remember this vividly as I was in Las Vegas to visit my grandfather for the holidays and spent that Sunday night watching the greatest Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in history, which also doubled as the greatest sports gambling moment of my life. Seriously – I had FIU and that was the best $100 I ever won.
The game was moved to Tuesday, and lo and behold, the ratings were terrific. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Thursday, long known as the night more Americans are on their couches watching TV than any other, is a loaded night of television. Based on last night’s ratings for the Big Bang Theory, there were about 3 times as many people watching CBS as the NFL. When’s the last time any network could say? And they’ll tell you the multi-camera, studio audience sitcom is dead.
What do you watch on Tuesday nights? Because other than hot glorious #MACtion, Tuesday is a pretty light night on the tube – though I do hold a soft spot for Nick & Schmidt on New Girl.
It almost makes too much sense. Playing on Tuesdays would give NFL players an extra day of rest between games – it’s five days between Tuesday and Sunday compared to four days between Sunday and Thursday. The quality of play would go up as players would have more rest leading up to the game and would be going into a regular Sunday game afterwards. The NFL could – if they really cared about player safety – work in more frequent byes for teams the week after playing on Tuesday.
There is also the not so insignificant role that fantasy football plays in this for a fan. Setting a lineup for the Thursday games can be impossible. Do I roll the dice and wait for a player to be cleared to play on Sunday? Or do I take my medicine and play a guy for a team that may not show – again, see Carolina vs. the Giants*?
*I lost my matchup that week by 9:30pm on Thursday. Not like I’m bitter or anything though.
For the Tuesday night game, there would be similar issues as with the Monday night game for fantasy players but at least you’d get the full slate of Sunday reports before having to make any rash decisions. And think about the excitement! Everyone who plays fantasy has had those Sunday night or Monday night games when you’re involved in a tight game that may come down to a player or two. What’s wrong with another night of awesomeness?
The only true downside is for fans – those weeknight kickoffs are terrible for attendance and largely why those fun #MACtion games are played in front of half-empty stadiums. However, is it really that different from the Thursday night games, with the possible exception that it’s easier to cut out of work on a Friday?
To review – playing games on Tuesday nights instead of Thursday nights would increase game quality, lessen the possibility of injuries, garner better TV ratings, give players more time off and dramatically improve the fantasy football situation for millions upon millions of fans.
What am I missing? Or does this make too much sense for Roger Goodell and company?
Of course, if we’re looking at Thursday Night Football and Tuesday Night Football – how much would NBC or ESPN pay for another NFL package – well, I sincerely apologize. It’d still be better than what’s happening now.
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