Just in case anyone has forgotten after a couple of borderline-watchable games, players still don’t like playing on Thursday nights.
Buccaneers safety T.J. Ward, in fact, hates them.
“I despise Thursday night games,” the veteran safety said, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. “They talk about how they want to keep us healthy, and all these rules to protect the quarterback and protect the receivers, but overall, this is probably the worst thing for a 53-player roster that you can have. In terms of keeping everyone on the field safe, this is probably the worst thing you can do, making us play back-to-back on a Thursday night after a Sunday game.”
This week, it’s the Bucs’ turn in the barrel, as they prepare to play the Patriots, and for Ward it’s hard to not feel the pain. He didn’t play last week against the Giants because of a hip injury, and without the normal time to prepare himself, he knows he’s not going to be right even if he plays against New England.
“I don’t even feel right until Thursday or Friday, I’m starting to feel normal,” Ward said. “You’re telling me you’re taking away from my ability to recover and be healthy for a normal week and you’re taking three days away from it. It comes quicker than the regular Sunday, and mentally you don’t have as many days to prepare.
“So it’s a double negative. Triple negative because it’s not doing that well rating-wise. I guess now it has picked up, but before it was doing terrible. You’re making extra money as a league for that day, but it’s detrimental to the players’ health.”
Ward is far from the only player who feels that way, but until ratings crater or it’s no longer economically viable, it’s hard to imagine the league ever backing away from the extra night of exposure.