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The ‘Rush’ of Thursday Night

Adam Knoll

It’s been said and rehashed, bemoaned, again and again. Thursday night football may be fantastic for the NFL’s bottom line, to each teams revenue share, and for fans of #moreFootballmoreBetter, yet it is problematic to the talent on the field, and off of it. The turnaround is too quick for players and coaches alike, and it is leading to noticeably worse football; a trend that snowballed on the Denver Broncos last Thursday night. Never mind the toll it can take on the players that the league has now sworn to better protect.

“It’s dangerous,” said then Texans Pro Bowl tackle Duane Brown in 2013. “It feels horrible.”

“Go get in a car accident and then try to play two days later. That’s how it feels,” Agreed former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson in 2012

We will forget the fact that when statistically scrutinized, Thursday night games do not differ much from their Sunday counterparts. Also, we will look past how the injury rate for Thursday games are on par with those played on Sundays (as is the overall concussion rate). This is more about feel, something that cannot be quantified with numbers.

We will instead use the old eye test, and notice how Thursday night games seem more sloppy, uneven and penalty driven affairs. We will notice how the players look slower, how the impacts at the line look more labored, and how less crisp offensive tactics get a boost from sore, hesitant defensive tenacity. You can be as tough as you want to be, if your lower back is killing you from three days ago, you aren’t meeting a 220 pound back in the hole with the same type of zest.

The typical 35 year old football fan has been watching football games for at least 25 years, 15 years or so of them with a keen eye. We know when football looks bad, regardless of what the numbers say. We can tell when players are just a step off of where they would usually be. A big part of these problems are because a human body would still be quite still sore from the 60 minute game he just finished 96 hours earlier.

So when we look at the Denver Broncos, and we try to figure out how the Super Bowl Champions just lost their second game in four nights, we have to remember: Thursday night games are trials, no matter how good the team might be. And this was all including the drama of Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak being sidelined with migraines, unable to coach the game.

When we think of Thursday Nights, we think of another week of football. We don’t think much about the players, yet they get far more worry than the true engines behind a football team: the coaches. While it can’t be entirely blamed on the quick turnaround, can we all at least agree that it may not be healthy to a human body, player or not, to cram six days of preparation into three. NFL coaching is already pretty hazardous to a person’s health. Are we really going to assume that the Thursday night structure had nothing to do with Kubiak’s ailment? It is widely known that Kubiak was feeling ill before even their game on the 9th, against the Atlanta Falcons. However, due to the time crunch induced by Thursday night games, coaching staffs often have to double up 2-3 weeks in advance just to get everything done in time. Getting ready for one team is hard enough, adding even more work seems like overkill.

All of this for an extra night of football. And a half brained NFL ‘Color Rush’ promotion that often-times looks tacky at best, another blatant money grab at worst. In fact, if anything nice can be said about Thursday night’s loss from the Broncos’ standpoint, it’s that their ‘Color Rush’ throwback jerseys were damn sweet. The Orange, offset with blue, and the callback to the famous old Bronco helmets were a sight to see. It was one of the better Thursday night games to watch as far as the colors on the field were concerned (props to the Chargers powder blue threads as well). Unfortunately, the actual playing of the game, as well as the time crunch off the field, left many things to be desired.

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