Few player complaints from playing on Thanksgiving

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Plenty of players complain about playing on Thursday, after playing on Sunday. Few if any complain about playing on the fourth Thursday in November.

For those who try incessantly to shout down legitimate player concerns about playing on Thursday after playing on Sunday, the absence of historic complaints about playing on Thanksgiving has become one of their favorite “but what about?” arguments. The reality, as demonstrated via appearances by both Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph and Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen on Friday’s PFT Live, is that the allure of playing on Thanksgiving trumps concerns about playing with only three full days off between games.

Even with the Vikings-Lions game starting at 11:30 a.m. CT (and even though the Lions are harder to beat at home on Thanksgiving), Rudolph and Griffen welcomed the opportunity to participate in games that carry a strong sense of tradition and pride. (It probably also helps that they won.)

But it’s one thing to play with limited recovery time on a day that is deemed to be special. It’s another thing to do it every given week, under circumstances that seem to be a money grab by the league — and that seem to conflict with the league’s supposed health and welfare epiphany.

Asked earlier this week on PFT Live to comment on short-week football, Patriots defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois had a two-word response: “Player safety.”

Despite the efforts to justify short-week football by rattling off misleading stats about injury rates on Thursdays vs. injury rates on Sundays, don’t be surprised if the league changes it tune as soon as next year, especially if it can’t find enough three-letter network money to justify the effort. A limited Thursday night schedule remains possible, with only teams who had the prior Sunday off playing on any given Thursday.

At a time when many believe the NFL has become tone deaf on too many topics, this is one area where it can create the impression that it “gets it,” even if it only gets there due to a lack of sufficient interest from the likes of CBS, NBC, FOX, or ABC to pay $45 million per game (and to finance the production of multiple other NFLN broadcasts) for the right to televise up to 10 total Thursday night games per year.

For the full Rudolph and Griffen interviews, check out Friday’s PFT Live at Apple Podcasts, where you should subscribe to the show, rate it, and review it.

19 responses to “Few player complaints from playing on Thanksgiving

  1. I would love to see TNF and the anthem protest just go away. Neither are good for the game. However, the tradition of football on Thanksgiving is much beloved in my family. Just as our tradition of no political talk on the holidays.

  2. If they limited it to a four night Thursday package with games only involving teams coming off of a bye week, nobody would complain. From a fan perspective, there’s an over saturation right now. From a player perspective, there’s a safety issue. This can be compromised on both sides.

  3. 0 teams play “every given week” on thursday. They play once a year on thursdays. They are willing to take the extra risk because it is Thanksgiving and a “tradition” that is fine. But dont pretend the safety of the players is as important as some people talk about if you are willing to forego player safety in certain circumstances.

  4. Thanksgiving games are true prime time games. Everyone watches them including a lot of people who aren’t even really football fans. Regular TNF games, not so much.

  5. Each team plays ONE game on short rest per season. On Thanksgiving it’s not a safety concern, but on other Thursdays, it is. Logic fail.

  6. “But it’s one thing to play with limited recovery time on a day that is deemed to be special. It’s another thing to do it every given week”

    If each team plays just one TN game a year, I don’t understand the issue. Especially since a lot of teams get very little national exposure and this one TN game is their opportunity.

  7. People have become used to Thanksgiving football which is why they can justify it while at the same time being against Thursday games in general. The reality is each team takes a turn playing a short week game just like Dallas and Detroit did for 50 years before them. If you are deadset against Thursday football you can’t be for Thanksgiving. That is being a hypocrite. Some people just don’t like change, or just like to complain for the sake of complaining. Some Thursday games suck and some are great just like on Sunday. Some players complain while others like the extended break after playing on Thursday. The bottom line is the games likely aren’t going away unless the players want their money pool to drop as well.

  8. I’m confused. Don’t players get extra time to heal or gameplan after a Thursday game? This argument is a little aged but is another tool for the segment of America who thinks the kneeling is in protest of the country… or players that hate Thursday games since they have to work more leading up to it.

  9. Have watched the noon football game since the mid fifties…the others, not so much and this year the games were particularly bad. Refs tried to keep the first game close, we had Thanksgiving dinner away from the tv at 3pm…Thanksgiving is a family holiday, not a football holiday…we had conversations and no one was glancing at their cell phones or at the TV. Ate good.
    Never watch TNF…couldn’t care less no matter who is playing…read about it when I get up in the middle of the night to have my Klondike bar…life is good!

  10. Tired of hearing so-called ‘football fans’ complaining about TNF. If you hate it just don’t watch. No reason to campaign to end it for other football fans who enjoy it.

  11. I hate the idea of Thursday night games.
    If that means getting rid of Thanksgiving games, then so be it.
    Thanksgiving is actually about something other than watching football.

  12. Honestly, humans like to complain and make excuses to justify themselves. I can easily say I hate Thursday games and then have to ask myself why I always watch the games… Others have pointed this out and I have to agree that games on Thursday, Sunday night and Monday night allow me to watch other teams and judge for myself how good or bad they are. It has allowed me to judge the NFC and AFC myself instead of pundits telling me how good or bad they are. For example, if I only looked at my own team I might think are the best team ever, but when I watch other teams in my conference I have to admit there are some gamers out there and don’t take things for granted and get too complacent. Let us just be realistic. If people were all up in arms about too much football the NFL Network would not even exist. Amazon and Twitter would never have paid huge sums to air the games. Football is the king of sports and even if ratings are down, they still generate millions of viewer more than any program at the same time. Finally, I will go out on a limb and say anyone who is a regulat at PFT watch at least one or all three games on Thanksgiving…

  13. codiablo says:
    November 25, 2017 at 2:41 pm
    Don’t understand why instead of TNF there isn’t a game on Sat night instead & all those games are flex


    Sometime around 1961, Congress wrote an anti-trust law stating the NFL couldn’t schedule games conflicting with high school or college football scheduling. That’s why the NFL doesn’t schedule Saturday games until college football is done, usually around weeks 15, 16 & 17.

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