Another Thursday brought another season-souring injury for the NFL. Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman was the latest to be shelved by an injury, as the Seahawks lost their defensive leader to a torn Achilles in their 22-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday. Sherman’s absence could significantly impact Seattle’s season, and sparked renewed outcry in the locker room about midweek games.
The league has been under fire from players about the frequency of Thursday night prime time games, who say that the short window between the previous Sunday’s games and Thursday’s contest makes it hard for their bodies to heal and heightens their risk of injury.
Should the NFL throw out Thursday night games? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this question.
Riley: There’s too much money to lose and not enough players complaining to end Thursday night games. While a percentage of players have voiced displeasure with Thursday night contests, there is a portion who enjoy the extended 10-day rest period following the game, saying the break serves almost as a mini bye week. Players get hurt in games all the time, no matter how long or short the layoff is. The Seahawks were simply voicing their immediate frustration after a tough game that took out their leader—it’s understandable. But the injury to Sherman, one which he was already playing with, isn’t reason enough to rearrange the NFL schedule.
Green: A fake commitment to player safety is easily criticized at the end of every Thursday night game. Players sometimes finish a game on Monday night and have a whopping three and a half days to prepare for another barbarian-like tussle that could end their careers at any given moment. Yes, it’s great that players have 10 days to prepare for their next game—but they need all of that time to recover after playing two football games in less than a week. The NFL is trying to oversaturate fans with a product that’s just not as popular as it used to be and they’re risking players’ health in the process. It doesn’t matter if fans are pleased with the current schedule, if after every Thursday night affair we have to hear from the players how upset they are that they had to play. It’s a weekly argument that isn’t going away.
Riley: It’s strange that we never used to hear complaints from the Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys about the short turnaround for their annual Thursday Thanksgiving game, and now a few injuries have suddenly made Thursday night games a health hazard. Players are just like employees at any other job—they’ll find something to huddle up and complain about once a few individuals start voicing their displeasure. The short turnaround doesn’t heighten the risk of injury, because that risk is there in the first game of the season, in practice or in a Thursday night contest. I do agree that the NFL is forcing football down viewers’ throats, and perhaps we don’t need a weekly Thursday night game. But let’s not make injuries the reason for ending it, because that risk comes with football.
Green: Yes, we know that football is a dangerous sport. Every report that comes out about concussions and long-term injuries continues to make us skeptical about its violent nature, and that’s the risk that the players have agreed to take. But that doesn’t mean the NFL shouldn’t try to protect the most important part of its product: the players. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the NFL gave teams an extra bye week as a way to find a compromise with its athletes, but they can’t keep adding games to players’ schedules. It’s a recipe for disaster. How many star players have we lost to season-ending injuries this year alone? The game has watered itself down because players can’t stay healthy amid this current barrage of games. The NFL should be trying to reduce the number of games players have to play, instead of looking for a way to maximize profit. But it’s a money-driven league and until the next collective bargaining agreement is struck, we’re going to have to keep suffering through low-quality games that bring a high-risk of injury.