Players think Thursday Night Football is dangerous, but don’t expect changes anytime soon

We've already stated that Thursday Night Football kind of sucks, and we're definitely not alone. Powerful proof comes from Houston Texans left tackle Duane Brown, who this week told Robert Klemko of The MMQB that Thursday games are both dangerous and painful ahead of the Texans playing the Jaguars tomorrow night. 

“It’s dangerous,” says the Texans Pro Bowl tackle. “It feels horrible.”

Brown, whose Texans visit Jacksonville on Thursday, played two overtime games back to back, on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 and Thursday, Nov. 22. Brown played 172 combined snaps that week, and describes a subsequent degree of pain and fatigue that he had not yet felt in four previous NFL seasons.

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“That Friday, everything was hurting; knees, hands, shoulders,” he remembers. “I didn’t get out of bed until that night. I didn’t leave the house at all. You talk about player safety, but you want to extend the season and add Thursday games? It’s talking out of both sides of your mouth.”

Klemko didn't stop at Brown in compiling testimony against the full-season NFL Network prime-time package, which the NFL says hasn't resulted in more injuries. 

“It’s a problem,” said Broncos guard Louis Vasquez.

“I don’t like them,” says Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson. “I guess because they don’t play in the league office, they don’t understand how your body feels.”

But as we all know, the Thursday package is valuable to the league office. Yes, that means it also puts some extra money in the pockets of the players, but I'm not sure they feel it's worth it. 

Right now, it definitely isn't, because that Thursday package generates limited revenue for the league so long as it belongs to NFL Network. There have been indications the package will eventually be sold to the highest bidder, but until or unless that happens the league will only benefit by way of selling extra subscriptions to its 24-hour football channel. 

“People believe that such a package could bring in about $700 million a year, " Sports Business Journal media reporter John Ourand told Klemko. "And the NFL would keep half of the games in order to maintain the value of NFL Network.”

Klemko notes the sad irony that the price cited by Ourand is in the same range as the bounty the league paid in order to settle a lawsuit from thousands of former players who claimed they were lied to about the dangers of concussions. 

"In essence," he writes, "the NFL could and likely will recoup the losses suffered as a result of their historically cruel and obtuse injury practices, by selling off a product that many players believe puts their bodies at extended risk."

The evil empires will likely win this battle, if it ever even becomes a battle. That's the sad reality. Smart fans realize the Thursday product is watered down and the players and coaches seem to despise it, but until we can prove that players are seriously in peril by playing in these games on short rest — and right now, it appears we can't — we're all stuck with them. 

Unless we the viewers stop tuning in. It wouldn't be tough to start this week, with the 2-10 Texans taking on the 3-9 Jaguars in the league's dullest market, a matchup that could produce the lowest ratings in series history.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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