The NFL plays games on Sunday, along with Thursday and Monday nights. Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football are massive cash cows for the league, bringing in big advertisements and exclusive footage. The recent Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer was unveiled during halftime on Monday Night Football. Despite the benefits to the league, there are many players, coaches and analysts who feel that Thursday Night Football, and to some extent Monday Night Football, pose dangers to the players.
A typical week presents six days of rest between games, but this gets cut down to three when teams have to play on Sunday and then again Thursday. Veteran players have complained that they’re not nearly fully rested by the time they’re putting their pads back on Thursday night. Despite this there are actually fewer injuries reported on Thursday night (4.3 to 7.3 injuries per game respectively). This only takes into account the injuries reported during the night though, and not those reported during or after practices following the game.
There is also something to say about the quality of injuries occurring during Thursday Night Football. I’m just thinking through my experiences watching games but it seems like more season ending injuries occur during Thursday Night Football games. Richard Sherman, the all-star defensive back of the Seattle Seahawks, went down for the year with an Achilles injury. Sherman went up to catch a fairly standard pass, but landed poorly and hurt himself. This comes a few seasons after Sherman penned an article talking about the dangers of Thursday Night Football. Over the course of their game against the Arizona Cardinals the Seahawks lost eight starting players. Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said on Thursday that “Thursday Night Football should be illegal.”
Now there is something to be said for the large rest period following Thursday Night games. Some players have said that during the week they curse Thursday Night Football, but on the weekend they love it.
The NFL has recently made strides towards ensuring player safety, maybe the next one is getting rid of the short turnover times associated with Thursday Night Football.