Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, a member of the NFL Players Association’s Executive Committee, has strong and colorful feelings about Thursday Night Football. The NFLPA, however, has not yet decided to apply any entertaining labels to the effort.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFLPA intends to take a closer look at TNF in the offseason. Given that the NFL is interested in renegotiating the current labor deal, changes to short-week football could be among the adjustments discussed.
Given the revenue generated by Thursday Night Football, the NFLPA likely will be inclined to find a way to strike a balance between keeping the package and promoting player health and safety. One possibility will be to ensure that each team playing on Sunday won’t play on the preceding Sunday.
In most cases, this means that the Thursday teams will have their bye the prior Sunday. (One exception would be where teams play on consecutive Thursdays, like the Cowboys and Vikings did in 2016.) While that will create some unusual situations, with two teams not playing in most weeks of the season (including Week One), the NFL had an unusual bye-week configuration from 1999 through 2001, when the league had an odd numbers of teams. In those seasons, one team was on a bye each week of the season, Week One through Week 17.
So the creative use of byes can address one of the primary objections to Thursday games. While that won’t eliminate the reality that every team will play on a Thursday (including the bad teams), let’s address the major flaws one at a time.