A history of NFL games on Wednesdays, as Steelers-Ravens prepare to play one on Yahoo Sports app

Frank Schwab
·3 min read

The NFL has played on Wednesdays before. It has never played on a Wednesday afternoon because NBC wanted to show the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center.

This NFL season is weird, and it reaches peak weirdness when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens (hopefully) kick off Wednesday at 3:40 p.m. ET. That’s a nice lunch matinee for NFL fans on the West Coast. The game can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app if you want to track some unique Wednesday afternoon football. Kickoff was moved to mid-afternoon to accommodate NBC’s highly-rated “Christmas In Rockefeller Center” special.

We got to this point because the Ravens had a COVID-19 outbreak. The game on Thanksgiving had to be rescheduled for Sunday, then Tuesday and then Wednesday. It won’t be the first Wednesday game in NFL history. But it will be just the second since 1948, assuming it stays on schedule.

Has the NFL played on a Wednesday before?

The NFL has always been pretty predictable in its schedule. The bulk of the games are on Sunday. “Monday Night Football” is a tradition dating back to 1970. Thursday and Sunday night games came after that. The league squeezes in a Saturday game or two after the college football season is done. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays are usually for the rest of the sports world.

This season, the NFL will go for the cycle. If the rest of the games go on as scheduled — that’s a big assumption — the NFL will have games on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday this season. To some, that’s a dream come true. It’s a bit of a nightmare for fantasy football managers, but they will adjust.

There has been only one game on a Wednesday in the modern NFL. In 2012, the NFL moved its annual opening game of the season from Thursday to Wednesday. The NFL rarely steps aside for anything when it schedules games (Christmas tree lightings excepted) but it didn’t want to go against President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

That’s how the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants ended up playing an NFL game on a Wednesday. That’s the only Wednesday game in the NFL over the last 72 years.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) will face off against the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) will face off against the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Some historic NFL games have occurred on Wednesdays

According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Wednesday games from 1925 to 1940 weren’t that uncommon. Then again, that’s when the NFL still had teams like the Pottsville Maroons and Rochester Jeffersons.

The first Wednesday game in NFL history came in 1925 and was between the Detroit Panthers and Cleveland Bulldogs. The first night game in NFL history was on a Wednesday, between the Chicago Cardinals and Providence Steam Roller in 1929.

From 1925-1940, there were 38 Wednesday games in the NFL, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 1948 there was one more, a season-opening game between the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions. That game was also notable because that night the Rams became the first NFL team to have logos on their helmets.

Then the NFL took Wednesdays off until 2012. Part of the NFL’s popularity is casual fans don’t need to follow it seven days a week like the other major sports. They can gorge on a Sunday and check out games on Thursday or Monday if they wish. More serious NFL fans wouldn’t mind games every day of the week.

In this weird season during a pandemic, they’re getting their wish.

More from Yahoo Sports: