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National Reacts Poll Results: Fans don’t really like Thursday Night Football (but it’s not going anywhere)

National Poll Results!!

NFL: SEP 29 Dolphins at Bengals Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s hard to know whether the results would be the same if Thursday Night Football’s recent short string of really bad games hadn’t occurred, but it’s clear that a lot of fans don’t think much of the NFL’s Thursday night offering at the moment.

I confess, I was one of the people who responded to this survey, and I was in the minority of people who said they liked the game. Personally, I enjoy having a different time slot in which to watch NFL games.

But, my personal enjoyment of the game aside, I voted with the majority that the game (which I took to mean “the sport” as opposed to the specific weekly matchup) would be better without Thursday Night Football.

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While I understand the business reasons for the game being played in the time slot — a prime time NFL game is a huge revenue generator — the fact is that 4 days is an uncomfortably quick turnaround time for and NFL team.

NFL teams are organized around a once-a-week rhythm, and the mechanics of installing game plans and the like don’t fit neatly into a short week. Of course, the travel for the visiting team is an extra aggravating factor.

Most importantly, players come out of a Sunday game as a sort of “walking wounded”, and most players aren’t really in any condition to go out and do it again until at least the end of the week; many players and former players have said that the last time they are truly healthy is the first day of training camp — or at best, the first day of the season. It is basically a 4-month physical endurance test after that, with every team fielding a group of players weekly who are to varying degrees, sore or injured, but playing the game anyway.

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It’s this concern for player recovery that most fans identified as the reason why they think TNF is problematic (this was my vote as well), but a large chunk of the votes went to the issue of game quality — saying that the problem with Thursday night games is the quality of the teams.

Regardless of how SB Nation readers across the nation (and, in fact, internationally) feel about Thursday Night Football, it won’t be going away in the foreseeable future. The NFL is the most successful TV and broadcast content creator around, and the revenue from the sale of broadcast rights is what drives the league and pays the huge salaries that these players earn in each one of their typically short careers.

In fact, the league is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to get nationally/internationally broadcast games on the schedule. For example, during open Saturdays in the college slate, the NFL jumps on those dates to broadcast pro games. A couple of years ago, the league expanded the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 teams, adding two wildcard weekend playoff games. In January this year, the NFL introduced “Super WIldcard Weekend” — a first-time concept of playing 2 wildcard playoff games on Saturday, three on Sunday, and one on Monday. The ratings success probably guarantees that the Super WC Weekend format will stay around as a fixture going forward.

The league recently announced that, starting next season, the league plans to schedule a game on “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving, with kickoff tentatively planned for 3pm Eastern time. Anything to get more milk from the cow.

Clearly, players want enough time to rest and recover between games; fans want the same. But players and owners know that the short week that every team has to live with once per season, along with the many other non-Sunday afternoon games, is part of the cash cow that drives nearly $18 billion annually into the coffers that pay the 32 owners and roughly 2,400 players obscene amounts of money each year. As long as that’s true, fans can look forward to Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Thanksgiving Day fotoball, Black Friday football, Christmas Day football, Super Wildcard Weekend football, and — yes — Thursday Night Football.