NFLPA president hopes for “longer runway” before Thursday night games

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Thursday Night Football is here to stay, for at least the next five years. With FOX paying $550 million per year (maybe more, depending on which reports are to be believed) for the privilege of televising 11 of the games on a broadcast network, the series continues to justify its existence by generating big revenue.

It’s one of those things where it’s a trade-off, right?” NFLPA president Eric Winston told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “The Thursday night package drives quite a bit of revenue. But at the same time, health and safety has to be prominent and important and something you don’t really want to trade off for money.”

Winston hopes for a “longer runway” before Thursday night games. The Commissioner, however, isn’t convinced that enough players want a bye week before playing a mid-week game.

Options include adding a second bye (the NFL tried using two byes per team in 1992 and 1993), expanding the season by a week, and configuring the extra bye to ensure that the teams playing on Thursday don’t play the prior Sunday. This approach would further complicate an already arduous process of scheduling 256 regular-season games, and it would create awkward scenarios including, for example, two teams not playing on the first Sunday of the regular season, since they will be playing on Thursday in Week Two.

For now, the NFL has the power to continue to stage Thursday night games, and it’s clear that this will continue, through the expiration of the current CBA in early 2021 and, given the $1.1 billion over two years that would be lost if TNF goes away, likely beyond.

13 responses to “NFLPA president hopes for “longer runway” before Thursday night games

  1. Why cant they schedule it so teams only have TNF the week after their bye week and then make sure they don’t play again that Sunday following TNF? So for TNF they wouldn’t have played for 11 days and then they wouldn’t play again for 11 days. This would make the season longer, but wouldn’t increase the number of games. While they are at it, they should chop 2 games off preseason and then it wouldn’t even make the season end any later.

  2. leatherface2012 says: “heres a longer runway…..get rid of TNF”

    This is what’s wrong with America. Just because you don’t like watching it, doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t. No one is forcing you – go read a book, take you family out for dinner, switch the channel. Let the other millions of Americans that enjoy TNF watch their game.

  3. The Commissioner, however, isn’t convinced that enough players want a bye week before playing a mid-week game.
    Of course not, because the NFL really only pays lip service to player safety. TNF has been raised by many players as a safety concern repeatedly. I’m fine with TNF but it IS a safety issue. It doesn’t matter if it’s “arduous” to figure out the schedule, do what it takes. All they’re asking for is a proper amount of time to recover before playing again.

    The NFL can afford to make player safety a priority. No reason not to.

  4. How about this (since getting rid of TNF) isn’t an option.

    Expand the season to 18 weeks with two byes per team:

    Make an opening night double header and have two of the teams play on thursday week 2.

    Start byes in week 2 and have each team play on thursday following a bye.

  5. “The Commissioner, however, isn’t convinced that enough players want a bye week before playing a mid-week game.”

    This commissioner has a history of looking at things the whole world is jumping up and down to say and still respond that he is not convinced that enough people feel that way.

  6. Two byes per team, but don’t start them until week 3 of the season. That means either no TNF weeks 2 and 3, or those are the only two weeks that players play on short rest. The rest of the season, teams on TNF will have a week and a half to recuperate.

    That extra week of rest mid-season might even lead to some players returning in better shape from injuries like sprains and broken fingers.

  7. Everyone continues to make a big deal about how dangerous TNF is despite the fact there is absolutely no empirical evidence to support this notion. There is no data that shows greater incidence of concussions or other injury.

    Why do facts never seem to matter once the narrative is created?

  8. My idea: give the players the option to protect their health by not playing on TNF. That way, the risk of injury is directly on the players who choose to play. Require them to file with the league paperwork stating they decline to play on Thursdays. As part of the deal, they get no game check for games they choose to miss. That way, the effect is felt on both sides, management and labor, equally. Heck, expand it to each game of the season.

  9. They should make sure the two teams playing on Thursday have a home game the week before, so they don’t have to travel back home and then for the Thursday game, make them two teams that aren’t too far apart, so they don’t have to travel too far and it’s in the same time zone.

  10. This is all being done to pave the way for the 18-game schedule – the CFL has used a two-exhibition-game, 18-games-over-20-weeks regular-season format since 1986. With an extra bye week for each team, it would be easy to give every team that plays a Thursday night game an automatic bye the week before. In addition to the 18 games, the Super Bowl would be played on the Presidents’ Day weekend (a long-sought goal of the owners), making “Super Bowl Monday” a holiday, if the totally useless off week before the Super Bowl is eliminated (the Pro Bowl can be played on the Saturday night before the Super Bowl).

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