Football is brutal.
The National Football League is the immensely popular professional version of this choreographed brutality. On a professional level, adult men of astonishing strength, size, and athleticism careen into each other with massive impact on every play. This results in a multitude of issues including physical, emotional, and brain injuries. It is a brutal sport and profession.
To seek to address these issues, teams, physicians, specialists, therapists, trainers, and players alike implement a host of programs. These programs generally comprise of anything from rest, therapy, surgery, rest, multiple doctor’s visits with varying opinions, recovery time, a litany of options for pain-killers, and most importantly, rest.
For the owners of these teams, this is a business. According to Forbes, the lowest valuation for any team in the NFL in 2017 is $1.6 billion, and the highest valuation is $4.8 billion. For their businesses, owners would like the best product, maximized, wherever and whenever possible.
In 2016, NBC and CBS combined to pay the NFL $900 billion for the rights to broadcast Thursday Night Football games for only two seasons.
Many NFL players have repeatedly voiced their concerns about the small gap of time between playing games on Sunday and Thursday, one of which has to travel to the opponent’s home stadium. This effectively voids the most needed aspect of their ability to perform in this arena: rest.
Most recently, after last week’s Thursday Night Football game where multiple teammates left injured- including among others, All Pro CB, Richard Sherman who ruptured his Achilles tendon- Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks noted: “This shit should be illegal,” speaking of the Thursday night games.
From the owners perspective, Thursday Night Football is part of their product being maximized, regardless of how it may affects the producers of the entertainment, the players. From their prospective, players have always been and can be a replaced. Their product goes on. The owners have repeatedly justified a willingness to employ people with questionable character in hopes of improving their product while, unfortunately, the player’s health and well being hasn’t always been the place where the owners and the NFL have curbed this desire to bloat their multi-billion dollar commodity.
The outcome becomes the everlasting struggle between morality and capitalism.
The players would like their rightful piece of the billion dollar industry they are a key part of, while also hoping to not alter their lives permanently in the process. The owners would like to stretch every avenue possible to capitalize on their investment. And the consumer is all too eager to spend and soak it in while debating which group is right.
At least in this equation of Thursday Night Football, there does seem to be one solution that could possibly pacify all three entities.
Set the bye-week of the two teams playing immediately prior to the Thursday night game. This would give them ten full days before the next game, and nine full days after. For those teams, there would be one game in twenty days, where the current bye-week provides one game in fourteen days.
In this case, the business can retain their goods and services, the players can preserve their needed rest, and likely sanity, and the consumer can absorb more of what they crave.
For this equation to become reality, like so many other cases, the first thing that needs to happen, is the ownership, along with the NFL, needs to consider treating their players, their employees, their assets, as respected human beings, rather than like replaceable parts on a Chevy.
Photo Credit: Associated Press/File