Remember how we wrote earlier Thursday night games are no fun for players? Consider Ben Roethlisberger as leading that marching band. Speaking with Ron Cook and Andrew Fillipponi on his weekly radio spot, Roethlisberger didn’t hold back when asked about playing on a short week.
“It’s miserable,” he told the show. “It’s terrible. They need to get rid of this game, I think. Just play on Sundays and Mondays. It’s so tough on guys. You’re beat up, you’re banged up, it’s a very violent and physical game that we play. I know both teams are going through it. I’m not just saying it on our side. I’m sure the Titans are saying the same thing and everyone who has played this Thursday night is saying the same thing.”
Roethlisberger noted that even a normal week is hardly enough time for guys to get back to feeling “right.” So when there’s just three days, which amounts to a crash course of practice and film study, it’s impossible.
“You gotta let your body recover a little bit. Even a week, you’re still not fully recovered from Sunday to Sunday. You’re still dealing with bumps and bruises and things continue to build up throughout the season. When you go on such a short week, man, it’s not good. I don’t know many players who like it. It’s a tough thing to do but we gotta do what the league says.”
The NFL has expanded their slate of Thursday night football over the past few years to essentially make in a season-long event. But generally speaking, the product has been sub-par and ratings not much better. There have been exceptions, the Chiefs and Raiders played a classic game back in Week 7, but you’ve had more cases like the Ravens blowing out the Dolphins in a total snooze fest.
And with as much emphasis on player safety the league has worked towards, Thursday night games run counter-intuitive to it. I haven’t delved deep into the arguments and studies over the increase in injury on a short week, Richard Sherman’s torn Achilles is fresh in our minds, but there’s a case to be made.
My humble suggestion? Double-headers on Monday night each week. It’s still a short week but less so than a Thursday game. You’re still capturing primetime viewing without a lot of competition in other sports. Sure, there are some logistical/time zone issues to work out (you can’t have an East Coast team play at 9 PM) but they’re a small hurdle to overcome.
For any player, a short week sucks. For a 35 year old geezer like Roethlisberger, it’s even worse. It could be one of a laundry list of discussion points in the CBA after the 2020 season. And not to end this article on a downer but another reason we’re headed straight for a lockout. A lengthy one.