Shutdown Corner - NFL

Ray Lewis(notes) isn't happy about playing in the NFL's first Thursday night game this week and it's not because he didn't DVR "Grey's Anatomy" or because he thinks Thursday is the new Friday.

Earlier this week, Lewis ripped the NFL for its eight-week Thursday night schedule (which begins Nov. 11 when the Ravens travel south to face the Atlanta Falcons) because it's unfair to the players: 

"You do it because it’s part of the business. But I’m almost guaranteeing that 99 percent of us would vote against that.

"It goes back to the 18-game schedule. You have to ask yourself a real question when you schedule games like this: Who does it help? Because it doesn’t help the players. That turnaround is just too quick. You go from playing a physical game on Sunday and you have less than four days before you have to physically get back up again. It takes a week for guys to really heal. I don’t know when they put it in but I’ve never liked it."

Lewis is right when he says that the Thursday night schedule isn't fair to players. (Although, if it's not fair to him, it's also not fair to the players on the Falcons.) But when did the NFL ever care about player concerns? This isn't about the 90 players on the field, it's about the millions of fans who tune in to watch them. The league exists to make money and Thursday night games help the bottom line, mainly because they give the NFL leverage when negotiating with cable companies about how much to charge for the NFL Network. The money that network brings into the league is far more important to owners than Ray Lewis' concerns about a quick turnaround time. 

I'm sure 99 percent of players would vote against Thursday night games. They would also vote against cross-country travel, the salary cap, drug tests, non-guaranteed contracts and mandatory mini-camps if they could too. Just because players don't like something doesn't mean it's wrong.

That being said, I completely agree with Lewis. I don't like Thursday night games either. And I get the sense that most NFL fans agree. The Ravens-Falcons game is a pretty good one, featuring two of the best teams from the AFC and NFC, respectively. Yet there's almost no buzz surrounding it. I'd bet a fair amount of people reading this are hearing about the game for the first time. "Oh yeah, there's a Thursday night game this week!"

I'll watch if I'm around, but I'm not planning my night around it. How many people outside Atlanta or Baltimore are?

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