ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 18: Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles is helped off the field after being injured in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The NFL says they're doing as much as they can to focus on player safety. They've outlawed certain dangerous hits, changed kickoff rules, came down hard on the Saints' bounty program, instituted new concussion protocols... There clearly has been an effort in some respects.
But then comes a weekly Thursday night football game. A night of the week where games have never been traditionally played on because common sense would say that players need more than just 3 full days to recharge and recover from Sunday's action. And the only reason they're on Thursdays now is to make the NFL's network more valuable. That's the only reason, because no one was asking for football on Thursdays.
The reason this relates to player safety though isn't just because all teams have to play on Thursday once, although that is certainly an issue. Its the absurd schedule quirks it causes for certain teams that overload their schedules. Case in point, the Ravens. They play 4 games in 17 days to start the season, with a Sunday night game against the Pats and a Thursday night matchup with the Browns.
The Ravens play 3 of those games at home and the only road game this Sunday just a drive up 95 in Philadelphia. The Eagles also have a 4 game in 17 days stretch, but they have trips to Dallas & Tampa. Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock thinks these schedules are more dangerous to players than bounties ever were.
But Gregg Williams is evil because he instructed his defensive players to attack the head. Really? What’s more dangerous, deeds or tough talk, a brutal schedule or a bounty system that rewards you for what you were going to do anyway?
Ravens safety Bernard Pollard says the schedule is tough.
"The four games in 17 days is strictly for the money," Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard told me Thursday night. "We as players understand that so we do everything possible to take care of our bodies. It’s on the coaches to understand what we go through and to give us a break, because that’s a lot of pounding in a short amount of time."
If you need proof that Thursday is a bad night to play football, look no further than the Eagles this week. If this game had been on Thursday night, Jeremy Maclin & DeSean Jackson would not have played. On Sunday, they likely will.
Thanks to KJ Brophy for pointing this out in the fanshots.