NFL Expands Thursday Night Football... and I Hate It

In the annual pre-Super Bowl press conference, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league is expanding on the current 8-game Thursday Night Football package to 13 games.  The TNF (that’s Thursday Night Football for those slow on the uptake) games will span from Week 2 through Week 15 and will assure that every NFL team gets a shot under the bright lights and will force each team to play one Thursday following a Sunday.  I HATE THIS.  Follow me inside to see why the hate.

It started off with the annual, traditional Thanksgiving games involving the Lions and Cowboys.  That was fine.  It’s a neat tradition to have a side of football with my turkey and cranberry sauce.   Five years ago in 2006, the NFL introduced the 8 game Thursday Night package of games.  It was created in large part to promote and push the newly formed NFL Network.  There was a lot of outrage among fans due to the unavailability of the NFL Network in many areas and the added cost of adding NFLN to your basic cable package, most often being bundled with a “sports tier” of channels most of which are otherwise useless to die-hard NFL fans.

With the latest move, the NFL will be airing games on Thursday nights from Week 1 thru Week 15.  Why do I hate it?  Let me count the ways.

It screws up my Fantasy Football experience

Like most of the football crazed, I actively participate in Fantasy Football, usually at least 2-3 leagues.  Thursday Night Football demands added attention earlier in the week.  You have to double check who is playing on Thursday night to make sure you don’t have Maurice Jones-Drew sitting on your bench because you forgot the Jaguars are playing on TNF.

Often times on Thursday, the injury status of one of your other key players isn’t certain.  Maybe Rob Gronkowski was limited participation on Thursday.  Do I risk sitting Greg Olsen on Thursday night in hopes that Gronk will be good to go on Sunday?  If I’m trying to pull off a late-week trade (and I know DeCon will argue that I don’t trade), my Thursday night guys are locked and I can’t make any moves involving those guys.

Confidence Picks and Pools

Yes, in addition to my FF obsession, I also enjoy participating in various confidence and survival pools.  Adding a game on Thursday nights either forces greater attention early in the week or limits the number of choices.  Confidence picks are now due Wednesday night or by noon on Thursday instead of on Friday afternoon or before kickoff on Sunday.  What if you don’t know if Matt Forte is going to play on Sunday when you fill out your pools on Wednesday.

Clunker Games

The really nice think about Sunday Night Football is the flex scheduling.  What looks like a choice prime time battle between the Colts and the Titans in April when the schedule is released suddenly loses it’s appeal when Peyton Manning and CJ2K are injured or holding out and by the time mid-November rolls around, no one wants to see the battle for last place in the AFC South.  With Thursday Night Football, the NFL doesn’t get the chance to make a move.  You’re stuck watching bad football.

Pushing NFL Network

This doesn’t have a direct impact on me because I am happy to fork over the extra $5 a month for the Sports Tier that you need to buy to get NFL Network from my cable provider, but since I’m a man of the people, I’ll fight for the little guy.  If your local team plays, of course the league allows the game to be broadcast on basic over-the-air broadcasts, unless you live in Tampa where all your games blacked out anyway.  But if you’re addicted to football and need to try to watch every single game or you’re not addicted but still enjoy watching NFL action over Grey Anatomy and the now barely watchable The Office,  you’ve got to go out and purchase the NFL Network.

It Screws up My Team

I hate anything that disrupts the Bears.  Football players are creatures of habit and games that don’t take place at noon on Sunday break that habit and puts the players out of whack.  The Bears got screwed a couple of years ago, having to go cross-country to San Francisco to play the Niners on a Thursday night.  Cutler threw like 5 INT’s and the rest is history.  The road team on a short week is at a disadvantage, plain and simple, especially if you’re traveling across country.  Every team will have to play on Thursday but only half of them will be traveling.

What do you think?  Do you like the extra Thursday night games?  Do you wish they added even more prime time games, like doubling up the Monday Night Football games, like they do in Week 1?  Should the league cut back on the prime time dates or continue to expand?  Has playing in prime time lost its luster?

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