The National Football League has adopted so many cockamamie rules in the name of player safety that it's almost dizzying. Don't dive at the quarterback's legs. Kickoffs from the 35-yard-line. Don't leap over the long snapper on field goals.
For a league that hasn't fully come to grips with head trauma, it's almost laughable.
But here's the one that takes the cake: Thursday Night Football. There was a time when Thursday football was reserved for Thanksgiving. Not anymore. Now, there is a Thursday night game to open the season. The Thursday games will continue through Week 15. After that, the games shift to Saturday for Week 16 and then an all-Sunday slate for the final week of the season.
Because of the NFL's schedule, most teams have a Thursday game. It's one thing to open the season on Thursday night. It's another to have a Thursday game only a few days after you played on Sunday. Not having a full week to recover after a game hinders the quality of play and the health of players.
We saw an example of this Thursday night when the Seattle Seahawks played the Arizona Cardinals. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman limped off the field with an injury. It was a ruptured Achilles tendon, which means he's out for the year.
After the game, Sherman's teammate Doug Baldwin said Thursday night games "should be illegal."
He's right, of course. Expecting players to compete on Sunday, then return for more action on Thursday isn't safe. You're putting players out there on short rest. And for what? Money. Millions of people tune in and the broadcast serves as another opportunity for the NFL to make some coin. Unfortunately for the players, their health is sacrificed as part of this get-rich-quick scheme.
Outside of player safety, there are other complaints about Thursday Night Football. The quality of play is usually poor. There are a few exceptions, but most games tend to be mediocre affairs. Again, millions tune in and that's all the league cares about. It's quality over quantity.
This should be a hot topic during the next round of talks between the league and players. If I'm the NFLPA president, I am taking a hard-line stance against Thursday night games. You want a season opener on Thursday? Fine. You want to continue the Thanksgiving tradition? OK. Everything else? No thanks.
The NFL should eliminate its Thursday night product. Focus on improving your "Sunday Night Football" and "Monday Night Football" offerings, which tend to suffer because of that extra prime-time game. If the league does keep Thursday night games, the two teams that play on Thursday night should be given a bye the previous week. Otherwise, any talk about player safety shouldn't be taken seriously.