Whether anyone likes it or not, Thursday Night Football is here to stay.
Plenty of players don’t like it. Plenty do. One who doesn’t sounded off on Friday.
Appearing on Jim Rome’s radio show, Washington safety Duck Ihenacho made it clear that he’s not a fan of the once-per-year short-week game that every team plays.
“I just feel like Thursday night games are a drag, man,” Ihenacho told Rome. “Physically our body just needs time to get healthy. It’s already hard playing every Sunday, and then when you shorten that week by a couple a days it’s hard to get psychologically and physically ready to play that game. That’s why you see all Thursday night games — they’re not as good as the Sunday games or the Monday games. It’s a reason. It’s not a coincidence.”
It’s hard to say whether Thursday night games are any better or worse than other games. On every given Sunday, plenty of the games played in the 1:00 p.m. ET window are hardly memorable, and if any one of them were separated from the rest and made to be a focal point of national consumption, plenty would say, “Man, this stinks.”
Ihenacho believes that more of the games should be played on Sunday, in the cluster of afternoon contests.
“They’re trying to oversaturate football,” Ihenacho said. “They’re trying to push football down everyone’s throat and it put on Thursdays. I think it’s fine the way it is — just having it on Sunday and Monday.”
The NFL routinely points to the injury rates during Thursday night games, pointing out that there is no greater risk when playing on three days’ rest. But playing a pair of games four days apart can take a toll unrelated to ay specific injury that keeps a player from performing.
“I feel like not moving,” Ihenacho said regarding the Friday morning after a short-week game. “I don’t want to get out bed. Every step hurts. Every muscle hurts. Your fingers hurt. Your thighs. You don’t want to do nothing. Guys want to be tough guys. We’re all men in the NFL — nobody wants to be the guy that can’t take it but it’s harder for guys. I would like to just see us play on Sundays.”
Again, for every player who doesn’t like Thursday Night Football, there’s one who’ll say that the shorter and easier work week before the game and the mini-bye afterward makes it worth the extra effort. Regardless, the players have agreed to play on Thursday nights through 2020, and it’s highly unlikely that Thursday Night Football will be going away any time soon, if ever.
Even if it ever would disappear (and it won’t), the short-week Thursday games played on Thanksgiving will never be abandoned. This year, Washington’s lone short-week game comes on Thanksgiving.
So even if there was no Thursday Night Football, Ihenacho would still be playing two games only four days apart later this year.