In response to a report from the Wall Street Journal that the league is considering Thursday night doubleheaders as part of an effort to generate more interest in midweek games, the NFL says that it won’t be uttering, “Let’s play two.”
“We have not discussed or considered a doubleheader on Thursday night,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email.
McCarthy elaborated, via Twitter.
“Wondering where the idea of Thursday night doubleheaders came from? So are we. We have not considered this,” McCarthy said.
The good news for the NFL is that the report has operated as an unintended trial balloon, which fans and media quickly popped. Plenty of people don’t like Thursday night games; they definitely don’t want a doubleheader.
As to the singleheader, it gives folks a chance to focus on games that otherwise would be lost in the Sunday afternoon scrum. While the games often don’t produce compelling outcomes, how many games on any given Sunday resonate into Monday? Typically, it’s one or two per week — which means that, on average, two or three Thursday night games per year will be memorable.
(And before anyone complains about the quality of Thursday night games, try watching the first half of Sunday’s game between the Packers and the Ravens, a pair of supposed Super Bowl contenders.)
The league did not refute the report that the NFL could sell the rights for some Thursday night games to other networks, reducing the current NFLN inventory of 13 Thursday night games per year.
“We haven’t made any decisions,” McCarthy said regarding that possibility.
Either way, Thursday night football is here to stay, at least through the end of the current labor deal. At that point, it’s possible the players will make a push to get rid of Thursday night football, given the persistent concerns that come from playing a game with only three days’ rest.