Through everything that happened this offseason with the NFL, people still love to watch NFL games. Never mind how inflated the footballs are and never mind about Ray Rice. Football wins, period. The trailer for the new movie Concussion says it all, “You’re going after a team that owns a day of the week.”
With that being said, nothing is perfect. For instance, people like having their games on Thursdays but get bummed when the game stinks. The human body needs time to heal and just a few days of rest sometimes isn’t enough, especially when it’s the 11th week in a row of doing it. So how do you make it better?
I think I’ve found a way to have Thursday Night Football every week while also not making it such an awful product. You don’t want it to be a bad product that makes it hard to watch (blowouts) while also having the players injured because of so few days of rest. So, without further ado, here’s my solution to fix football… at least on Thursdays.
First, make the NFL season 18 weeks long.
WHAT?! I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU CARED ABOUT PLAYER SAFETY?! LIAR!
Okay, calm down. I know what you think you read, but let me explain.
No… no, I’m not saying that they have to play 18 GAMES. That, literally, goes against everything I said earlier on. Instead, I’m saying that you still have a 16 game season and 2 bye weeks to account for Thursday Night.
One of the bye weeks can be however they figure it out right now. Why is the Minnesota Vikings bye week in Week 5? I don’t know, but however the NFL higher ups came to that conclusion before, we’ll keep that the same. Sound good?
Then, the other bye week will come the week before a team plays on Thursday night.
For instance, let’s say the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots play on Thursday night in Week 6. Therefore, in Week 5 both the Dolphins and Patriots have a bye week.
If the Steelers play on Thursday night in Week 11, then Week 10 is one of their bye weeks. If the Ravens have their Thursday Night game in Week 13, then Week 12 will be a bye week. You get the point. This will give each team 10 days of rest before their Thursday night game instead of three days and change, like they go through now.
Ok, so that sounds like an easy enough jumping off point, right? I mean, I gave the NFL another week of television coverage (more $$$) and it didn’t make the players bodies hurt any worse. It actually made it feel better.
However, the problem then comes with how do you schedule all of the games to make it even and fair for everyone.
Well, first, let’s keep every Thursday game a rivalry game. The NFL already does this now and they can sell that easily enough, right? You would have Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh, Atlanta vs. New Orleans, Dallas vs. New York etc…
So, before going any further it needs to be understood that, if we go ahead and accept my 18-week season, there will be 19 NFL games on Thursday night played over 17 weeks. The only week that won’t have a Thursday game is the last week of the season, right before the playoffs. The NFL doesn’t even do that now so nothing changes there. The last week of the season is only Sunday games, and that’s it. No Monday, Thursday or Saturday games.
Now, here’s how those 19 games will look.
The first Thursday game could have the opening game of the season. If you want it to be the Super Bowl Champions and a random team, great, whatever floats your boat. This year it was Pittsburgh vs. New England. Obviously that wasn’t a rivalry game, but an interesting one, at least on paper.
There’s 1 game.
Now, because there are 32 teams in the NFL, that means there will be 16 different games set aside for rivalry games.
There’s 16 more games, giving us a total of 17 games.
Great, we have progress. We have 17 games figured out of the 19 games. 17 down, 2 more games to go to figure this out.
However, don’t forget about Thanksgiving. They not only need their Thursday night game but 2 more games to give you full TV coverage all day long. So, one game has the Lions and one game has the Cowboys.
There’s your final 2 games to give you 19 and all of the games.
There! Eureka, we’ve done it! Now we have 19 different games played over a season!
People may say that a team like Dallas and Detroit would have an unfair disadvantage because they play 2 Thursday Night games every year because of the traditional Thanksgiving game.
I said earlier that each team gets two bye weeks. Therefore, for teams like the Cowboys and Lions who always play on Thanksgiving, and automatically have two Thursday games, both of their bye weeks come on the weeks they play on Thursdays.
So, if the Lions played on Thursday in Week 5 and Week 13 then Weeks 4 and 12 are their two bye weeks. Also, no team should play 3 Thursday night games. That just seems mean.
Also, understand that whoever kicks off the season as the first Thursday night game automatically has two Thursday Night games because week one isn’t a rivalry week.
Therefore, if you take this year’s opening game as an example, both the Patriots and Steelers would have another game somewhere in the season. For example: The Steelers play the Patriots in Week 1 and the Ravens in Week 4.
Now, obviously the Steelers and Patriots couldn’t have a bye before week one so their second bye week would come randomly in the middle of the season in whatever fashion they choose bye weeks now and their other bye weeks comes in Week 3, before their game against the Ravens. Understand?
Wait, one problem still remains.
I realized that everything works out good for the teams playing on Thursdays except for the two teams that play on Thursday in Week 2. If they played in week one, then they still have that three days rest problem we’re dealing with now.
In that case, you have two options.
Option one is that the two teams get a bye in Week 1, delaying the start of their seasons by a week.
Option two is to apologize to the teams in week 2 and understand that we don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes you cant change everything to make it pretty. Maybe incentivize their contracts a little bit more.
There, I upped the NFL’s revenue, kept with tradition and gave the players another week to rest and I’m just a college graduate from Sacramento.
Also, if you adopted the 18 weeks schedule I proposed then you would play the Super Bowl on the Sunday before President’s Day. (February 14th in 2016) If you do that then you can jokingly say that the next day after the Super Bowl is a national holiday like people have been asking to have for years.
What do you think? Am I on to something?