It’s pretty much become a generally accepted thought that the NFL can essentially serve its fans garbage, and they’d come clamoring back for more. This is an NFL obsessed country, we breathe it, watch it and darn near live for it. We’ve gone through the ups and downs that the game has brought of recent, from replacement refs to the travesty that is the Pro Bowl, the NFL can virtually do no wrong…or can they?
Thursday Night Football has been running successfully since 2006, and would run for the last 8 weeks of the season. In 2012 the NFL announced that they would air Thursday Night games every week for the rest of the season. Now, the sound of more Football sounds amazing on the surface, so initially Thursday Night Football was welcomed with open arms to many starved NFL fans. But as the weeks progressed and the matchups got worse and worse, one can’t help thinking that maybe the NFL has veered into ‘too much of a good thing’ territory.
One can’t even put all the fault on some of the atrocious matchups they’ve aired–Colts @ Dolphins and Buccaneers @ Vikings comes to mind…but I digress. The main crux of the Thursday Night dilemma has been the expansion of it. The beauty of the 8 game setup of old was that come week 8, one pretty much has a good projection of a given team’s makeup. But, with having a game every week you’re just opening yourself up to being forced to show otherwise meaningless games, just for the sake of having each team get a chance to be on national tv.
The NFL Network, is still a fairly new network and one that’s just of recent been introduced into the homes of millions in big market towns such as New York. The goal of Thursday Night Football was to be the anchor and glue of the network, to help build up viewers with their expansion. Part of Football’s ‘aura’ is predicated off the fact that it’s only on once a week, with a major headline game on Monday. Football has become a sport built around Sunday, so the concept of a non-Thanksgiving NFL game on a Thursday by itself is strange on the surface. Tie that in now with a game airing every Thursday and it just kind of makes your head hurt.
The NFL is pretty cocky about its success, and thrives off its ‘recession proof’ makeup in that, no matter what fans will always flock to the sport in droves. But eventually this Thursday Night experiment may prove to be one giant bust. While the ratings may not readily identify to a problem, fans have already been critical about the substandard product being aired Thursdays. Football works sort of like a long distance relationship, where the longer you’re away from that person you miss them more and more, but when they’re around all the time, constantly…you want to rip your hair out.
While the NFL hasn’t officially jumped the shark, it’s damn near close as Thursday Night’s lukewarm matchups become more and more lackluster. Even if TNF proves to be a bump in the road, it’ll be just that, a bump in the road. The NFL is too solidly run to let one hiccup disrupt it’s popularity, the replacement ref saga proved that. But they are in uncharted waters if they’ve ultimately created something that hasn’t become a mainstay. Simply put, if they must continue the TNF package, make the games GOOD, don’t give us any kind of crappy scrimmage game and call it a prime time must-see match. If the replacement ref ordeal has taught us anything it’s that us the fans have wizened up to the NFL’s ways, as we now know that we mean nothing but $$$$ for them.