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Monday, November 11, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing

Are you ready for some football?  If it's Thursday, and you're talking about the NFL ... the answer for me is "no."  No.  I am not ready for NFL football on a Thursday night.  When Thursday night NFL first got started, most people, including me said that there couldn't possibly be anything bad about more football.  But, it turns out that Thursday night football football is like that second piece of cheesecake or that sixth beer.  Sometimes you really can have too much of a good thing.  Due to financial reasons and the need to fill their own network with programming, it seems unlikely that The League will stop playing on Thursdays.  But, here are a few reasons why this fan thinks the NFL should stick to Sunday and Monday.

UVA fans after Thursday night upset of FSU in 1995
1.  College Showcase.  There was a time when all televised football was played on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  And that time wasn't long ago.  High school football was played under the lights on Friday nights.  The big boys left that alone.  Then there was the dawn of college football on Thursday nights.  This was a chance for games that might get overshadowed on Saturday afternoon to get primetime, exclusive exposure on ESPN.  The ACC and the Big East were two conferences that embraced this stage early on.  And, over the years, they put on some good shows on Thursday nights.  But now, that exclusive college stage is gone.  Even when the NFL matchup may be blasé, it's still the NFL.  And, therefore, it will detract from the college boys' audience.

2.  Terrible Games.  Typically, the NFL releases its schedule in April.  So, way back in the spring time these Thursday night games get locked in as stand-alone events.  Anyone who has tried to make preseason predictions will tell you that it's extremely difficult to make long term predictions about what games will be entertaining match-ups at the halfway part of the season.  But, what's worse than that is that the quality of play is often very messy.  That's due to teams often only having three days to physically recover and mentally prepare after their Sunday slug tests.  But, doesn't the short week impact the college games I just extolled?  Probably.  But we don't watch college football for the perfection of play.  We watch it for the pageantry and the possibility of an upset.

(Bloomberg via Getty Images)
3.  Fantasy and Games.  Let's not kid ourselves.  Fantasy football is a huge part of the modern fan experience.  By the time the dust settles on Tuesday morning, and you have a chance to analyze what improvements your team needs, you only have 2 days to make adjustments before the Thursday night game rolls around.  That's barely enough time for players to clear waivers, let alone negotiate and complete a trade.  The Thursday games are also problematic for those of us who participate in weekly Pick 'Em competitions.  My league, like many others, requires all picks to be locked in before the kickoff of the first game of the week.  That gets increasingly problematic as the season progresses and injury reports get more complicated.  For example, this week, many of us will have to have our picks locked without knowing whether or not Peyton Manning will answer the bell for the Sunday night game against the undefeated Chiefs.  Sure, we might not know before 1:00 p.m. Sunday kickoffs, but we'd sure have a lot better idea than we'll have before we start scrounging up some pre-game dinner on Thursday evening.

Like, I said before, I don't expect the NFL to retreat from a territory where they have already planted their flag.  But, if any of y'all happen to have Roger Goodell's email address, please forward this on to him.

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