Friday, August 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: Why Thursday Night Football must end

I like Thursday night. I like football.

I hate Thursday Night Football.

And judging by television ratings for the NFL this season, I'm not alone. Ratings are down. Something is wrong.

There are plenty of theories, but don't be fooled.

It's not that everyone is sidetracked by Clinton versus Trump. It's not Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem. And it's not the Cubs in the World Series.

There is too much football, and the problem is Thursday Night Football.

Bad teams. Bad games. Bad football.

You can't blame it on the broadcasts. NBC and CBS put their best people on the broadcast — Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. That also means their best production people and technical staff are involved.

It's just too much football. We never used to have Thursday Night Football, and we got along just fine.

Now it's all football, all the time.

It starts with Sunday. Pregame shows with casts of thousands start pimping the games while most of us on our first cup of coffee. Next up, the 1 o'clock games. Followed by the 4 o'clock games. For many, that means staring like zombies at the NFL Red Zone channel, which toggles between games nonstop for seven straight hours.

You don't eat. You don't go to the bathroom. You don't blink. All you do is watch football.

It's a drug.

Then comes Sunday Night Football, which has turned into the marquee game of the week. It's what Monday Night Football was to previous generations. Oh, but we still have Monday Night Football, too.

By the time we go to bed Monday, we've had our fill of football, especially after probably watching a good six hours (at least) of college football on Saturday.

It's like eating a huge five-course meal. You need a rest before eating again or you get sick.

Well, Thursday is too soon to eat again. It's too soon for football, but many end up watching half-heartedly because what else are you going to watch, another crummy episode of The Big Bang Theory? (How that show is a hit is a mystery to me, but that's for another day.)

Too many games are dogs. Jags-Titans, Cardinals-49ers, Bears-Packers, Browns-Ravens. Even tonight's Bucs-Falcons game has little appeal beyond Tampa Bay and Atlanta.

In addition, the human body, even one as conditioned as a National Football League player's, isn't equipped to play two football games in five days. There isn't enough to time to prepare physically, emotionally and mentally. No wonder the games are sloppy.

So, you get bad teams with beat-up players.

What happened to anticipation? Sometimes you need a buildup to something to truly appreciate it. Football has lost that buildup.

Wouldn't the league be better if we actually could look forward to Sunday and Monday?

The NFL should play on a Thursday only if there's turkey and stuffing on the table.

It's not going to change, sadly. Thursday Night Football makes money. It's going to draw more viewers than a sitcom starring the guy who still should be hosting The Soup on E!

It doesn't mean we have to watch it.

I will, of course.

But doggone it, I won't like it.

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