BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The NFL is re-evaluating its scheduling process in a bid to avoid the short turnaround of having teams playing on Sunday night and then travel to play on Thursday, Troy Vincent told The Associated Press.
“That’s tough, and we’ll have to look at that,” the league’s vice president of football operations said during a visit to Buffalo on Thursday. “Ideally, that’s not something that we would like to have.”
Vincent was referring to last month, when Washington beat Green Bay in a prime-time game on Nov. 20, and then lost a late afternoon game at Dallas four days later.
He said the league prefers that both teams playing on Thursday would be scheduled to play early Sunday afternoon games the previous weekend.
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Vincent said the issue is on the league’s agenda and has also been raised with the NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz, who oversees the schedule.
That’s welcome news to Washington coach Jay Gruden, who called it a “no-brainer,” when informed of Vincent’s comments.
“The recovery time for these players after a physical football game needs to be more than what we got. And then you throw a plane ride in on top of it, it makes it pretty difficult,” Gruden told The AP. “It can be done because we did it. But I think the schedule maker should really look at that and not put somebody in that predicament again.”
Days before the game at Dallas, Gruden called the schedule unfair and said his biggest worry was the health of his team.
The shorter turnaround between games, such as what happened to Washington, is a rare occurrence. It has happened just seven times over the past 11 seasons, and only three of those instances involved a team playing on Sunday night and then again on Thanksgiving.
Vincent cited league data in saying there is no indication that injuries have increased involving teams playing on three days’ rest.
Otherwise, Vincent said, the NFL plans to continue playing weekly games on Thursday, with all 32 games being scheduled to play at least once per season.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno in Ashburn, Virginia, contributed to this report.
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