George Kittle Describing His Brutal Weekly Recovery Highlights How Dumb The NFL's New Thursday Night Football Plans Are
Although it is the time for April Fools, unfortunately this is not a joking matter when it comes to what the NFL intends to do with Thursday Night Football. Possibly the most-pageviews blog I've written since starting here over a year ago dealt with player safety issues, and it ties in to the subject at hand here:
In that piece, George Kittle describes getting tackled on turf as something like "playing on cement". Then of course there are all sorts of injury statistics that underscore how much more dangerous playing on turf generally is as opposed to natural grass.
Why does this happen? To optimize turnaround time for major stadium events and, in a word, money.
...Which brings us to what Kittle described to Theo Vonn. Even when you have optimal rest by NFL standards (Sunday to Sunday), Kittle explains that every game is akin to getting into multiple car accidents. Guys are playing through what they'd consider minor injuries, or tolerable pain, when much of the general public would be weeping their way down the field just trying to last for a three-and-out series.
That's why you have player and ex-player reactions like these to the new proposed TNF situation:
The league is even considering short-notice flex scheduling.
Goodell is basically using the league's former company-line stance on traumatic head injuries that went something like, "Oh well we don't know if there's a direct correlation" etc. Weak shit. Also, the whole "this is what the players signed up for" argument only extends so far. In my opinion, this ain't it.
Now let's cut back to Kittle's explanation of how grueling the recovery process is from Sunday to Sunday – never mind Sunday to Thursday (edited for clarity and concision):
"I'm in multiple car accidents every Sunday…I've had games where I hyperextended my knee, that's gonna affect your season. Or you burst a bursa sac in your knee. That's going to be there for several weeks. And if you get lucky, you don't have to deal with that stuff, it's a little bit better, but you're still getting into these car accidents. Monday…I have to do a big lower body lift. I have to move otherwise you get really stiff and you get more sore. So you do a big lift, try to stay a little bit mobile. Mondays I usually feel OK. Tuesdays are really, really hard days…you kind of feel everything. […] Especially when we play on the East Coast, we have a five-hour flight back and we get home at 4 a.m., those are tough.
"[…] You get in these car accidents and it takes like…Thursday to Friday is when I start to feel like myself again. The more into the season you get, the more your body is wear and tear, wear and tear, wear and tear. Really now how I see it is, if I'm not doing football, I'm doing recovery."
So to get this straight, Kittle doesn't feel remotely normal until at least Thursday following a Sunday game…and now it's looking like players will be forced to play ANOTHER GAME on a Thursday multiple times per season.
Hey, Roger Goodell and other fuckheads who are in charge of this decision-making? You know what a brilliant idea is? You already added a 17th regular-season game that puts the players in more harm's without the most glaring, obvious fix in the history of professional football.
An extra bye week!! For fuck's sake, how hard is that to implement? Shit, give 'em two extra byes, if not more! Drag out the NFL season for a longer period of time. Let these guys get some decent rest and recovery while they put their bodies through hell on earth.
Sure, a longer season means a condensed offseason to some degree, but there's a whole dead period from May through most of July. You really want the NFL to dominate the sports calendar 365 days a year more than it already does in the United States? Reward everyone with more breaks, push back the entire offseason schedule, give the up-and-coming college prospects a little downtime before they hit the grind of NFL Draft prep and give fans an even more constant fix of intrigue and anticipation. You get more eyeballs more days of the year on the league. Likely more money. Everyone wins.
Is that so crazy to propose? I'm sure you can poke a zillion holes in that logic, but from where I sit, and from what I know about the pageviews on this site, nothing draws people in like the NFL. No football fan gets tired of football. If anything, they want more content, more discussion and more to look forward to. Part of the magic is the limited number of games, yet so much of the hype builds in the lead up to those matchups.
I say all this because I love the NFL, and holy shit, the month of the draft is here!! What I'm trying to get across is, as good of a place as the NFL is in overall right now, some painfully self-evident, major improvements can be made where all parties benefit. Anyway. I'm sure folks will criticize this as some form of grandstanding, being naïve or what have you. Go nuts. Just spitballin' over here. It doesn't take a nuclear physicist to understand how pernicious a second Thursday game for NFL teams would be without any extra recovery time built in. Pretty basic logic to arrive at that conclusion.