Friday Night (bright) Lights?
The NFL’s insistence on playing Thursday night games has drawn criticism from every corner: players, coaches, owners, media, fans and just about anyone else who has an opinion about the sport.
Three days is a very short turnaround in a sport as brutal as football. However, these men are being paid very good money to play a game, so I don’t feel very sorry for them. If they don’t like it, they ought to try spending day after day after day in the shoes of a coal miner, a construction worker or a farmer.
The NFL should seriously consider playing on Friday if it feels it must have a national game on a weeknight. Yes, I am well aware high school football is the big thing on Friday nights, but there would be a way to make both the NFL and the high schools happy.
To alleviate the problems a Friday night game would cause for the high schools, the NFL could release the Friday night schedule well before the rest of the schedule. That way, high schools in the two cities which are involved in the NFL game in a given week could have plenty of time to rearrange the high school schedule.
For instance, if the Chiefs played the Broncos on a Friday night, high schools in the Kansas City and Denver areas would simply move games to Thursday night or Saturday afternoon. This would NOT be required, but it would be suggested if a school fears it would lose gate revenue. Teams could still play on Friday if they wished.
This might cause problems in cities where there are a large number of teams sharing a municipal stadium. This comes to mind in New Orleans, where five Catholic schools and several public ones play home games in one of two stadiums in City Park. There are usually six windows for games in Tad Gormley and Pan American: Thursday afternoon, Thursday night, Friday afternoon, Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night. Sometimes Saturday games are played in the morning.
Until Pan American opened in 1973, Tad Gormley was the only municipal stadium for high school football in New Orleans. Games were often played on Sunday afternoon and Sunday night. This continued even after the Saints came into the NFL in 1967. The high schools did not usually schedule games at the stadium when the Saints were playing at home, but often did when the Saints were on the road. The last regularly scheduled Sunday game was in November 1987 when Shaw defeated Jesuit 21-0.
In Kansas City, this would be a problem at Olathe, Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley, where five schools share two stadiums in each district. St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Miege and Rockhurst all have their own stadiums, as do schools in Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit. Liberty and Park Hill each have one stadium shared by two schools, and one is usually on the road when the other is home.
Fridays would allow more rest from a Sunday game. On the back end, it would be only one less day off.
I’m a firm believer the NFL should give each team two byes. Start the season the weekend of Labor Day like it used to be. I don’t get why the NFL is so against playing before Labor Day. Sure, they say it’s because of the colleges, but I don’t buy it. The NFL tried this in 1993, but teams complained. I think it would be good.
If teams had two byes, no team would be allowed to have a bye before week five, meaning each team would play at least four games before their first bye. Then no team would have a bye AFTER week 14, meaning all teams would play the final four weeks consecutively. There, problem solved.
The NFL could have its usual Thursday night kickoff game. No Thursday night games weeks two, three and four; instead, there would be a Monday night game, with one game kicking off at 1800 Eastern, and the other kicking at 2145 Eastern (1845 Pacific); ostensibly, you would attempt to have two western teams in the late slot, but not force any east coast teams to play in the west.
I could live without Thursday night football. I lived without it for the first 37 years of my life. I don’t watch the games much on Thursdays. Why the heck does the NFL need the money? It’s not like they’re filing for bankruptcy tomorrow.