The NFL is expanding its package of Thursday night games whether players such as Seattle's Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright like it or not.
The NFL today announced that it will “expand Thursday Night football in 2016 and 2017.”
The expansion is mostly in the TV coverage — games will now be on both CBS and NBC as well as the NFL Network — since the league was already playing games on Thursday of every weekend (except for the last one) anyway.
The most telling line of the linked release may be the last one: “The 2015 season was the most-watched and highest-rated Thursday Night Football season ever.”
While the games have usually been inartistic, at best, and a mess, at worst, and while players almost unanimously hate playing on Thursday night, they get great ratings.
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So, they are here to stay.
The reason players hate Thursday night games is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons the games often are hardly compelling — that the bodies of the players have yet to recover from the previous Sunday.
Last year, while doing a little story on Monday Night Football, I asked K.J. Wright about playing on that night and he quickly switched the conversation to volunteer how much he disliked playing on Thursday nights.
“That’s what they need to do is take away Thursday night football,’’ Wright said. “That’s absolutely terrible.’’
Wright said those games are hard to play “physically and mentally. My body doesn’t feel good after a game again until probably Wednesday or Thursday and you’ve got people playing a game on Thursday? That’s absolutely insane.’’
But Wright and his fellow players had better get used to it as the games appear here to stay.
Thursday Night Football — which expanded from eight games in 2006 to 13 in 2012 and 16 the past two seasons — has been good for the Seahawks.
Seattle is 5-1 on Thursday Night in the Pete Carroll era, including a 20-3 win at San Francisco last October. Seattle is also 4-1 on Thursday Night Games that are in-season (meaning, games in which they had just four days rest from playing the previous Sunday night).
Seattle is 15-3 in all prime time games under Carroll, though just 2-2 last season, losing at Green Bay on Sunday night and at home to Arizona on Sunday night while beating Detroit on Monday night and the 49ers on Thursday night.
But that doesn’t mean all of the Seahawks like playing at night, regardless of the day of the week.
“I hate playing at night,” cornerback Richard Sherman said prior to the Detroit game this year. “I feel like it’s a day wasted. … I mean, it’s just another football game where you lose a lot of the day and you have to play at night for some apparent reason. I wish we could play early.”
As for complaints about the quick turnaround to playing on Thursday nights during the season, the NFL took to Twitter on Monday to try to fend those off: