McMullen: TNF Needs to Go
(973espn.com) - The product stinks, the players hate it, the coaches disdain it and even those paying hundreds of million for it seemingly believe it's hurting their bottom line.
Yet "Thursday Night Football" still exits, something Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin isn't exactly on board with after watching a number of his teammates go down with injuries during a 22-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
"This S@#$ should be illegal," an angry Baldwin told the Tacoma News Tribune after the game. "It is not OK. It’s not OK. You can quote me on that."
Baldwin himself pulled his quadriceps during pregame warmups yet pushed through to catch five balls for 95 yards, including a brilliant 54-yard backbreaking catch and run stemming from the now trademarked Russell Wilson extension of the play that essentially won the game for Seattle.
Baldwin, though, was more concerned with all the bumps and bruises as players pushed themselves to be ready on a short week later in the season, the most notable of which was a season-ending torn Achilles suffered by All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was asked a similar question and hardly gave a ringing endorsement to the league's current setup although was wary to go as far as Baldwin due to potential fines for telling the truth.
"I don't want to have to pay anything [a fine], so I'm not going to comment about anything," he said.
Sherman himself had already criticized the TNF last year.
"It's a poopfest. It's terrible," the CB1 explained last season.
Last week, veteran Buffalo offensive guard Richie Incognito played the role of Baldwin after his team traveled across the Empire State and into North Jersey to lay an egg against the New York Jets.
“It’s tough,” Incognito said after the 34-21 Bills' setback. “These Thursday night games – they suck. They throw a wrench in our schedule. It’s absolutely ridiculous that we have to do this. As physical as this game is, as much work and preparation that goes into this, to force us to play games in four-day weeks is completely unfair. And it’s s@#$."
So why does "Thursday Night Football" exist?
Well, Incognito had a beat on that as well.
“The league makes money off of it," he correctly surmised. "That’s all they care about, anyway. So we just keep trucking."
The real power here lies with people like CBS' Sports Chairman Sean McManus, who cut a big check for part of the TNF television package but also seems to be starting to recognize the unintended consequences of adding more football to his schedule.
“I do think it’s clear that adding 10 games to the Thursday night package and two additional Sunday morning London games has clearly diluted the Sunday afternoon packages and affected the ratings," McManus admitted when speaking to the Wall Street Journal. "It’s just simple mathematics.”
It wasn't simple enough to stay away in the first place, something McManus explained to AwfulAnnouncing.com when he dived into the Thursday night pool.
"Whenever the NFL adds programming, the appetite seems to be there from fans, and the ratings keep getting better,” he said.
As long as people like McManus continue to cut massive checks, the inferior product will remain.
At least one option, however, has gone from the appetite is there to it’s simple mathematics very quickly. Hopefully, more follow.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for Extra Points Media and 973espn.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@Sgmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen