Yeah, we could talk about the Bears and Dolphins this morning, how crazy it is that Chicago could actually make the playoffs this year, how helpess Tyler Thigpen looked, etc. But let's take a step back and see the forest from the trees this morning. Every year around this time, the NFL quietly shifts one-game-a-week to a night when none of us are accustomed to watching football, on a network most Americans don't even have. IT'S TERRIBLE.
IT'S TYLER THIGPEN TERRIBLE.
The coverage on NFL Network doesn't help, obviously. It would be impossible to make football less appealing than Matt Millen and Joe Theismann yammering back-and-forth for three hours, and Norman Chad had an entertaining takedown of the whole spectacle earlier this week. But really, nothing indicts those guys quite like their own words:
Millen: "You look at these defenses - they both have their strengths and they both have their weaknesses."
Theismann (on a Matt Ryan pass): "Aerodynamically, it's thrown perfectly."
Millen: "If you look at the Atlanta Falcons' offensive line vs. the defensive front of the Baltimore Ravens. . . collectively they're much better than they are individually and they have to collectively win that battle."
Theismann: "What impresses me about the Atlanta Falcons - on two third-and-short situations, the ball carrier knew how far he had to go. . . they've picked up (two) first downs just by being smart."
Make no mistake, America: These men will make you dumber. But that's not even the problem.
The thing is, there's a rhythm to pro football. We spend the first few days of the work week reliving the previous week's action, then there's a little bit of a lull, and by Thursday and Friday, we're ready to look ahead to the next weekend. It presents challenges for the teams, too, but that's beside the point. As fan, I'm not ready for a Thursday night game every week.
It works perfectly for Thanksgiving because that day already functions like a Sunday. But on Thursdays during the normal week, I usually don't even know where I am--then suddenly there's football coming out of nowhere, and we all have to scramble.
When there's a game on Thursday, suddenly people have to start thinking about fantasy lineups even earlier, making bets earlier than they're used to, and—if you're favorite team happens to be playing or it's actually a marquee game—finding a house that gets NFL network. It all catches us off guard, and it's completely unnecessary and manipulative. We're addicted to this stuff, after all.
We can't NOT care about football being played anywhere, even if it's the Bears and Dolphins.
The NFL knows this, of course. And their attitude is that more is always better (especially when it's on the NFL Network). But if you turn football into something that demands our attention for more than half the week, eventually, we're just going to start ignoring it. Or maybe we won't ignore it, but we'll definitely care a little less, and it makes the orgy of football on Sunday a little less special. I get it; the NFL has its own network and wants to make people watch it, so playing games on Thursday makes sense to them. But instead of enjoying the NFL Network, Thursday Night Football kind of just makes me hate the NFL. And especially Matt Millen and Joe Theismann.
And most of all, Roger Goodell. We never had to deal with this crap under Tagliabue.