Opinion Thursday Night Football negatively affecting the NFL

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann forces New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees into throwing one of five interceptions on the night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, November 29, 2012. Atlanta topped the Saints, 23-13.Credit: Courtesy of TNSAmerican football is loved by millions across the country.It’s the most popular sport by far and has the most television viewers. It’s so popular that we have NFL games on more days than just Sundays and Mondays.The highly anticipated Monday Night Football game takes place each week — as it has since 1970 ­— and typically draws the attention of millions of Americans.Then there’s Thursday Night Football, which began in 2006. Prime-time matchups that are supposed to be as thrilling and exciting as the ones on Monday night. This season, however, that has not been the case.But the thing is, I don’t think those Thursday games should happen at all.The NFL and TV networks get a lot of money for airing them, but these games are actually hurting the league and — most importantly — the players.But before I get into how the players are suffering from these games, let’s take a look at this season’s Thursday night games so far.The first five Thursday night games of the 2014 season were complete blowouts, with the winning teams outscoring their opponents, 205-60.The past two weeks have been a little better, with the Texans coming back from a blowout-like deficit but ultimately falling to the Colts 33-28, and the Patriots narrowly escaping the Jets 27-25.But scores of games can’t explain why these matchups have been — more often than not — mediocre.So what is it that makes these games so one-sided and poorly played?It seems the root cause might be that the players are just not ready for these games.They go out and perform on Sunday or Monday and give it everything they’ve got. Then, they normally get an entire week to recover before they play again.With a Thursday night game though, they only get three days to relax and get ready to play again, not to mention that one day of those three has to be used for travel if the team has to play on the road.Players and coaches around the league have been vocal about their feeling towards Thursday night games.Then-Indianapolis Colts and current-Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told The News-Sentinel in 2012 that he has witnessed the negative consequences Thursday games have on the athletes.“(I’ve) seen guys that go in the game (on Sunday), get off the flight and can’t walk … It’s great for the NFL Network, obviously. But I think it’s very, very taxing on these athletes, especially when we talk so much about player safety.”A game as physical as football takes such a huge toll on a player’s body every week that they need sufficient time to recover after their games.The NFL has been implementing rules to help keep players safe on the field, but they’re ignoring this Thursday night dilemma that could be just as dangerous to the well-being of their players.The league continues with these games because it makes money, which is why the amount of Thursday night games has increased to a full season.Players keep criticizing the NFL, claiming that it’s hypocritical for preaching the idea of player safety while adding in these short-rest games, and I agree with them 100 percent.“It’s just like being in a car crash,” Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush told CBS-Detroit in 2013. “I touched the ball at least 20 to 30 times a game, that’s 20 to 30 car crashes you’re in in two hours. It’s tough to get your body back ready that quick for a game on Thursday.”Health of the players should come before money. A change needs to be made, whether it’s changing the day of the week of these games or nixing the idea completely.Friday and Saturday nights have become college football territory so there aren’t really any better options for moving the games.When it comes down to it, it just doesn’t seem logical to continue these Thursday night games in the NFL.They’re too detrimental to the players’ safety and will eventually hurt the league as a whole. You can’t make money if there’s no one to play in your games.