The NFL’s Thursday Night Football experiment has been the punchline of countless jokes since its inception. Let’s refrain from making any here in the interest of not piling on, but the facts are clear: The players hate Thursday Night Football. The ratings aren’t great. The games have been mostly terrible, and now you can add New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to the list of people that think running NFL football on Thursday is just a bad idea.
The Atlanta Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints 20-17 on Thursday night. Both the Saints and the Falcons have playoff aspirations, and while this was a huge win for the Falcons, the takeaway for the Saints was how many key players they lost to injury, and how that might impact their playoff run.
ESPN’s Mike Triplett detailed the injuries the Saints suffered on Thursday night, and they are extensive.
Star running back Alvin Kamara and Senio Kelemete suffered concussions. A.J. Klein and Kenny Vaccaro each injured their groins. Trey Hendrickson hurt his ankle and Ted Ginn Jr. hurt his leg. They all left the game and never returned, while Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas, Josh Hill, David Onyemata and Marshon Lattimore were in and out of the game all night.
Drew Brees talked about the Saints’ injuries in his postgame presser, and it quickly turned into a rant against the very concept of Thursday Night Football. Brees blamed the quick turnaround required by NFL players to play in Thursday night games, claiming that people who don’t play football don’t understand the toll it takes on their bodies.
It’s 100% a product of playing on Thursday night. Do you understand what guys’ bodies go through in a game, and then to have to turn around four days later and to play? Look at the injury studies. They are off the charts. They are off the charts. So, is this smart as it pertains to guys’ health and safety? Absolutely not.
It’s hard to disagree with Brees here, particularly when most NFL players share his opinion on this. It seems like after every Thursday Night Game at least one player is saying it’s bad for football. But unfortunately for Brees and the rest of the NFL, Roger Goodell’s contract as NFL commissioner has been renewed, and Thursday Night Football is something Goodell has appeared determined to continue and grow.