The smart way to solve the NFL’s Thursday Night problem

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NY Post:  The Seahawks got the win, but their Super Bowl chances took a huge hit Thursday night with Richard Sherman tearing his Achilles. Doug Baldwin spoke out after the 22-16 win over the Cardinals to bash the mid-week games.

“This shit should be illegal,” Baldwin said. “It is not OK. It’s not OK. You can quote me on that.”

Baldwin pulled his quadriceps in pregame warmups, but still had five catches for 95 yards. The Seahawks also lost left tackle Duane Brown (ankle), running back C.J. Prosise (ankle), defensive tackle Jarran Reed (hamstring), defensive end Frank Clark (thigh), safety Kam Chancellor (stinger) and linebacker Michael Wilhoite (calf) to injuries.

Players have been critical of Thursday night football since its inception during the 2006 season. It was expanded from a half-season package to a full-season one in 2012. 

Bills lineman Richie Incognito said after the team’s loss to the Jets last Thursday: “These Thursday night games — they suck. They throw a wrench in our schedule. It’s absolutely ridiculous that we have to do this. As physical as this game is, as much work and preparation that goes into this, to force us to play games in four-day weeks is completely unfair. And it’s bullshit. But, you know, whatever. The league makes money off of it. That’s all they care about, anyway.”


Igcognito’s claim that “the league makes money out of it” is true enough, but what he leaves out is that the players make money out of it too.

Since the last CBA, the players receive:

  1. 55 percent of league media, which includes all broadcasting revenue—television, satellite, radio and Internet.
  2. 45 percent of NFL Ventures and the NFL postseason revenues—including all revenue from the operation of postseason NFL games, as well as revenues arising from the operation of NFL-affiliated entities, such as NFL Mobile,, NFL Productions and the television channel NFL Network.
  3. 40 percent of local revenue—which consists of “all revenue received or to be received by the clubs or club affiliates and not included in League Media or NFL Ventures and Postseason revenue.”

Thursday night football brings in at least $500 million – $450 from NBC and CBS for 10 games, $50 million from Amazon for 10 games, plus whatever the ad revenue is from NFL Network showing the remaining games, and peripherals like the Nike “Colour Rush” merchandise sales.

That’s say, $300 million for the players.  Divide by 32 teams and 53 players, and you get about $175,000, on average, per player.  I get the minimum salary in the NFL is half a million, and they’ll all be on 50% tax rates, but that’s still a chunk of change to give up for playing one game a season 3 days early.   They don’t seem to quite get the whole “revenue-sharing” thing.

Before the last CBA, the NFL was tossing up the idea of moving to an 18-game schedule (up from 16), but that was a non-starter for the players, who do not seem to grasp the general concept of receiving 50-odd per cent of the revenue from the sport with no financial costs.  This is despite a large number of them ending up broke after their NFL careers are over.

Here’s a solution that might help the players keep their $300 million, and bring in some more money.

Currently, each NFL team plays 16 games over 17 weeks, with one bye week each.  They also play four pre-season games, which basically follow the pattern of the starters playing one drive, one quarter, one game and sitting in street clothes.  That is, largely a waste of time.

Forgetting Thursday’s, the TV networks pay to show two Sunday afternoon games (CBS and Fox get games in each time slot), a Sunday night football game, and a Monday night football game.

ESPN pays $1.9 billion a year for Monday Night Football.  NBC pays $950 million for Sunday night football.  CBS pays $800 million for its Sunday AFC slots.  Fox pays $925 million for its Sunday NFC slots (more than CBS because NFC teams are located in some of the largest TV markets).  And DirecTV pays over $1 billion for the “Sunday Ticket” rights to show every game nationwide.

Axing one pre-season game, giving each team two byes – one of which would be used before their single Thursday night football game for the year – and playing the games over 18 weeks solves all the problems and gives the TV networks and extra week of football.

  • Players have no 4 day weeks.
  • The season is no longer for players and coaches – and they get to avoid one additional useless game in the pre-season.
  • The networks would pay extra for an additional week of football – maybe not pro-rata, but given the total TV rights are worth $5.5 billion, it should be worth an extra few hundred million.

Problem solved.  Look, I’m not saying that this should make me the front-runner for the $50 million a year NFL Commissioner’s job, but obviously it should.








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