NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held his yearly State of the NFL press conference today in Indianapolis and announced that the the NFL Network will broadcast 13 Thursday night games starting in 2012. Goodell also said that all 32 NFL teams will be guaranteed at least one prime time game over the course of the 2012 season.
The NFL Network broadcasted eight Thursday night games last season and the new package will start in Week 2 and will run through Week 15 of the 2012 regular season. The question now becomes, how does this figure in with the strong push for player safety? Giving players a short week to prepare for games is not healthy and certainly could affect the competitive balance for players that are coming off of a short week after suffering injuries the previous week.
Hopefully the league will consider stacking several of these games with teams coming off their bye weeks, but is it possible to accommodate all teams that way? I don\’t think so based on the current use of the bye weeks. What Goodell should really say is that it is more money for the league and an agenda to push the NFL Network even further up the network food chain. It will be interesting to see how some of the vocal Pittsburgh Steelers players think about this and immediately both Ryan Clark and Charlie Batch both come to mind.
Don\’t get me wrong, I love Thursday night football, but let\’s call it what it is and stop hiding behind the concerns of player safety when it relates to other issues. This move is about money and it could care less about player safety.