By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Physically speaking, football is a pretty grueling game. And so, reasonable minds know that forcing players to collide at full speed just 100 or so hours after their previous games is not the best idea.
Nevertheless, Thursday Night Football continues to exist in the NFL. It may not put the players’ health and safety at the forefront, but it earns the league money in the form of a television contract. So it persists.
But after the Jets defeated the Bills 34-21 on Thursday night in New Jersey, veteran offensive lineman Richie Incgonito sounded off on Thursday night games.
“It’s tough, man. These Thursday night games, they suck,” Incognito said, per Jon Scott of SPEC News in Buffalo. “They throw a wrench in our schedule. It’s absolutely ridiculous that we have to do this. As physical as this game is, and as much work and preparation that goes into this, to force us to play games on four-day weeks, it’s completely unfair and bull [expletive]. And whatever, the league makes money off of it, and that’s all they care about anyways.”
The man has got a point.
On Thursday, the Bills saw receiver Zay Jones and running back Taiwan Jones suffer injuries in the loss.
While the NFL stated in its annual health and safety report that the rate of injuries on Thursdays is slightly lower than that of Sunday and Monday games, the data includes much too small a sample size for any conclusion to be made.
Plus, the NFL faces this paradox: The league would never, ever schedule a team to play on Monday night and Thursday night in the same week. The lack of time for rest, recovery and preparation is far too small, and the league would admit that.
But what makes the league believe that 24 more hours makes any difference?
It doesn’t, and everyone involved with the games knows that. But as Incognito said, the games remain a big-time money maker for the league, which sold the broadcast rights for a reported $450 million last year. This year, Amazon paid the NFL $50 million to broadcast 10 Thursday night games.
And, in what is most certainly bad news for players who hate playing these games, most of the contests this year have actually been good. Five of the eight games thus far have been decided by five or fewer points, with a number of those games coming down to the final drive to determine a winner. Finally, after years of bad football on Thursdays, the league seems to be getting what it wants.
It’s more than likely, then, that the 34-year-old Incognito will just have to file away his frustration along with his many complaints against the way the NFL is run.