In his prepared remarks at the Harvard School of Public Health, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said nothing about the impact of short-week football upon the league’s unprecedented push for safety.
The topic came up in the post-speech question-and-answer session.
“We have to look at the data and see if there’s a higher frequency of injuries,” Goodell said regarding Thursday games, via Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe. “We have not seen that. If we did, we would certainly evaluate that.
“[The players], actually, in most cases, like the Thursday night game. They don’t practice much the week of the game, and they get 10 days off after that. They enjoy that aspect of it. The reaction, while always mixed, right now has been quite positive from a players’ standpoint.”
While the thumbs ups may exceed the thumbs down, one very influential player previously has given the approach two thumbs way down.
“You have to ask yourself a real question when you schedule games like this: Who does it help? Because it doesn’t help the players,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said in 2010. “That turnaround is just too quick. You go from playing a physical game on Sunday and you have less than four days before you have to physically get back up again. It takes a week for guys to really heal. . . . I don’t know when they put it in but I’ve never liked it.”
Since the most recent CBA, at which time the players had a chance to scuttle Thursday night football completely, short week games have grown, with every team now playing once per year a game on a Sunday followed by a game on a Thursday. And while that make it fair from a competitive standpoint, it doesn’t make it right.
That said, the Cowboys and Lions have been playing one annual short-week game every year for decades. And there have been few complaints about it.
Moving forward, the players can complain all they want. With the current labor deal lasting until 2021, it’s highly unlikely that anything will change any time soon.