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Cory's Corner: The NFL Must Pull Plug on TNF

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Cory's Corner: The NFL Must Pull Plug on TNF

The players and coaches hate it. The media has detested it. And even many fans could do without it.

Of course I’m speaking of Thursday Night Football. Originally it was a bad idea and it has turned out to be 39 shades of awful. Players aren’t given enough time to rest and recover and coaches aren’t given enough time to game plan.

TNF started in 2006 only on the NFL Network. CBS came onboard in 2014, as did NBC two years later.

Yet, three networks supplied bids for TNF. NBC and CBS, which both broadcasted games this past year, in addition to FOX. I’ve come to the realization that games on Thursdays aren’t going away anytime soon. It’s easy for the networks because they know they can put tackle football on and it will outdraw just about anything else.

Or will it? ABC was expected to make a bid but didn’t at the last minute over concerns that it wouldn’t be able to turn a profit.

That does make sense because of oversaturation. You can trip and fall and find NFL football on the tube. It’s on Thursdays, Sunday mornings in London, Sunday afternoons, Sunday nights and Monday nights. Later in the season, it’s on Saturdays when the college football season is nearly wrapped up. And to make it even worse, you can even catch some games on YouTube or Amazon.

That glut of games has made the price of NFL advertising and the importance of each game go way down. When the games were on just Sundays and Mondays, advertisers had a smaller window to showcase their goods, which meant the price went sky high.

And from an entertaining aspect, watching games on Thursday nights has been like watching reruns of Cavemen. There’s no heart and no soul. Just a bunch of guys playing a game that needs to be televised. And that’s why CBS and NBC only want to come back if the price is much lower than the combined $450 million per year.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that the NFL has a goal of reaching a $25 billion revenue by 2027. And in order to do that, the Shield must extract water from a stone. Remember, the NFL is losing money from CTE and head trauma lawsuits and it stands to lose even more in the future.

If the NFL truly wants to be appointment television, then it has to sever its ties with Thursday Night Football. And while they’re at it, they can throw in the worthless London experiment — even though Goodell’s long-term goal of a team across the pond is mind-boggling, it doesn’t massage the bottom line.

The NFL has always felt like it has been invincible to any and all outside forces. Ratings dipped 9.7 percent during this past regular season and TNF saw 1.501 million less viewers than 2016.

You can say it was the national anthem protests, but I still think it’s because people don’t value the NFL product like they once did, because it’s so easy to find. You know the axiom less is more? Well the NFL needs to understand it. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (77) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Rustyweezee's picture

I'd miss seeing a game on Thursday nights, but it does need to go. As a replacement, I'd suggest replaying the Packers games that were blacked out in Minnesota. Of course, I may be biased....

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I'd say it's a stretch to call that a game. More like a slopfest.

Get rid of it.

Coldworld's picture

I tend to agree. Based on last season’s fare, I would support this purely out of kindness to potential viewers. However, I think the real reason is that it skews the odds too often. No need for that. That said, improving the officiating is a bigger issue in my view.

Packer Fan's picture

Who is this an issue for? Cory? Seems like you are having difficulty finding original articles. I just think the NFL is going to do what it is going to do.

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Players that are more prone to injury, coaches that aren’t prepared and many fans that have to burn a day of vacation just to use their tickets.

Seems pretty original to me.

rdent's picture

Cory, I agree! Did this guy even read the article? These players take an incredible beating each week and playing on Thursday does not give them enough time to recover, imo it dilutes the quality of the game, the only time I watch TNF is when the Pack plays and everyone I know doesn't stay up on a week night to watch unless the Packers are on. Sunday Night Football is enough to make for a rough Monday morning at work A lot of people, including myself have burned vacation days because of TNF and SNF.

dobber's picture

I watch TNF pretty much every week (even though we rarely get marquee match-ups) because...
1. ...I get to make fun of the color rush uniforms.
2. allows me to keep Grey's Anatomy from showing up on my television.

Tundraboy's picture


worztik's picture

Are posts that you don’t like just deleted or what?

Nick Perry's picture

Like it's been said a 1000 times before, if the NFL was TRULY concerned with player safety these Thursday Night games wouldn't even be played. Come of these guys play 70 snaps on Sunday, try to heal up the many bumps and bruises by Wednesday only to do it again the very next day? Christ the Packers have a hard enough problem staying healthy, they don't need to enhance the possibility of injury by playing games 4 days apart. The Packers normally win on Thursdays kicking the crap out of the Bears most seasons. But at the end of the day doing it on Sundays is just as good!!

But even if we put the safety issue aside the actual quality of most of the games is terrible. Most weeks it seems at least to me we're watching a game like the Bills vs Jets or Broncos vs Colts. Now I will say this past season did have some better games, but if I absolutely HAD to watch football on a Thursday, one of the ESPN channels has always had a Thursday night game and still does.

Ferrari Driver's picture

An NFL game has about 12 minutes of actual action which is spit between offensive, defensive, and special teams. The rest of the three hours is spent looking at replays; huddles, TV commercials, times out, and standing around.

Granted, the game during those 5 or so minutes of action for the respective units are rough and tumble much of the time, but I sincerely think it would be reasonable for NFL players to handle a game on Thursday. It's certainly much less dangerous than what those soldiers do on Thursday over in the Middle East for a lot less money.

Since '61's picture

I have posted for years that Thursday Night football is stupid and unnecessary. It's unfair to the players who don't have a chance to heal from their previous games and it waters down an already poor product for the fans to watch.

It's just a money grab for the league. The players should eliminate it in their next CBA. The same for the London games. I never want the Packers to play a Thursday game or a London game. Just play on Sundays and make it fair for everyone. Thanks, Since '61

Bearmeat's picture

I don't like TNF. Unless it is a game that affects GB, I don't watch it. I also don't like MNF, the London games, or any game played on foreign soil for that matter. For exactly the reasons Corey stated above: it comes down to the lack of watchability and players bodies not being able to handle the shorter turn around.

I'd like to see all games played on Sundays. I'd like to see all games streamed where you could purchase what you want a la carte. It's 2018 for craps sakes! The NFL needs to join the 21st century.

Bearmeat's picture

Oh, and while I'm on the "things I hate about the NFL" train of thought:

1. Color rush. YUCK!
2. The personal conduct policy
3. The fact that coaches can't challenge anything they want- including a judgement call by a ref. Keep it at 2 times a game for anything. Not just certain things.
4. Owners moving teams. It should be outlawed.
5. The east coast and Dallas biased TV maps.
6. Jerry Jones.
7. 4 week long preseason.
8. Hard knocks.. yawn.
9. Non geographically aligned divisions. WTH is Dallas doing in the NFCE? Why is Miami in the AFCE? Etc..
10. The prohibition on practicing tackling for all but a few practices, thus increasing injuries and making the first 4 weeks of the real season almost unwatchable

Ugh. The NFL could be so much better than it is.

rdent's picture

Bearmeat, I too believe the NFL should make a change in the NFC EAST from the time Carolina entered the league. Move the Panthers to the NFC EAST and place the Cowboys in the NFC South. Dallas in the east has been a logistical nightmare and now there is no reason to continue it.

CAG123's picture

Yeah and the Colts in the AFC south makes no sense either, they should switch with the Dolphins and the Panthers potentially switch with Cowboys even though every thing from Tennessee on down has more of a southern heritage Panthers in the east does make sense.

MedicMike's picture

The preservation of history and rivalries is why the Cowboys play in the NFC East.

To suggest divisions be realigned to satisfy your compulsion for geographic harmony is short-sighted, to say the least. The position of a dot on the map shouldn't have to be factored in. No one cares about a Panthers -Redskins game in week 5.

Bearmeat's picture

And I would argue that no one cares about a Dallas/NYG matchup in week 1 for the 10th year running either - except those inside the division.

Look at Tampa Bay for example. There was no hate between NO and TB or ATL and TB when they moved to the NFCS in 2003. And now? It's a rivalry. You are a rival to whom you play a lot. If Dallas were to move to the NFCS, CAR to the NFCE etc, those divisions and their fans would adjust over time to the new rivalries.

dobber's picture

Uh oh, someone poked the Bear(meat)...

Tundraboy's picture

Reminds me of a Southpark clip with the Lone Ranger telling Indian Companion (PC name) "Go kick that charging Bear in tbe balls."

dobber's picture

There are never enough South Park references...

Tundraboy's picture

So true. The reference I made is to clips that Parker and Stone made, non animated, with themselves. Found only between episodes in the DVD set, though now maybe on youTube. Other was them cooking bacon and feeding it to a real pig.

Spock's picture

I remember seeing a "Far Side" cartoon showing an aged Lone Ranger saying, "What the...?" with the caption, "Long after retiring the Lone Ranger makes a startling discovery." It showed the cowboy holding an Apache to English dictionary turned to the term "kem o sobe" (however it was spelled) with the definition, "Apache term for the rear end of a horse.". Hilarious.

Tundraboy's picture

Far side was great Thanks for the gem.

Bearmeat's picture

Nah. He's got his opinion. I've got mine. I don't buy his logic, nor the NFL's (other than money). But it is the way it is and it's not changing.

Tundraboy's picture

3 is certainly a no brainer. Kids playing pickup games have more logical rules.

I'm Dunn's picture

Preach it Bearmeat!

flackcatcher's picture

Jerry Jones should be No.1(with a bullet 0:) There is no one who has done more damage to the league than Jones. Al Davis was a small time punk compared to Jones. There is not an owner in the league who Jones has not tried to screw over. Owners hate him, players know Jones will shaft them first chance he gets. (Even long term NFL players who played for the Cowboys hate this guy with a passion. You have to hear the stories. Jones is a real piece of work. )

Curt's picture

I don't watch Thursday or Monday night football. Wouldn't care if they both disappeared.

rdent's picture

Sunday night and Monday night football are enough for the older working class.

stockholder's picture

Agreed. Sunday Night too.

dobber's picture

Being in the Eastern time zone, and not being able to really remember my 40th birthday, a game that ends at midnight is a problem. Especially if it's the Packers, where I no doubt will be so wound up at the end that I won't be able to really sleep until 2am.

Bearmeat's picture


Nick Perry's picture

I UNDERSTAND!!! When I visit family which is usually every Thanksgiving I HATE that time change. Living in Los Angeles is AWESOME as a Football Fan.

Games start at 10:00 AM Sunday mornings. MNF and SNF both start at 5:20 PM or so. The people on the East Coast TOTALLY get screwed here. Back in 96 or 97 I was visiting the night Chris Jacke kicked a 53 yard FG to beat the 49ers. Like you mentioned I was so pumped up I think I finally went to sleep at 2 AM!!

Sunday and Monday night football starting at damn near 9 PM sucks!! My kid wouldn't have gotten any sleep those nights living back east...I scream at the TV too much!!! : O

MarkinMadison's picture

TNF will disappear when we all watch something else. The sad truth is, with 50+ channels on most of our TVs (I'm ignoring all the double-broadcasted channels that I still get on cable, for God knows what reason) , it does not take much in ratings to still be great. In 2017, the season low for TNF was still good enough for 3rd place at 8:00 p.m. central (and the drop-off after 3rd place was huge). Interestingly, the ratings for TNF at 8:30 p.m. actually doubled. Big Bang Theory, the #1 show, runs from 8:00-8:30. So as much as we all hate it, there is money to be made there.

dobber's picture

Look at college football. Is there ANY night of the week from Labor day 'til Thanksgiving that you won't be able to find a college game on?

Bearmeat's picture

No. Which is one of the reasons I don't watch college football at all. That, and recruiting is dirty, athletes at division 1 schools aren't real students by and large, they don't get paid... CFB sucks.

Nevermind. Don't get me started. lol.

MedicMike's picture

If memory serves, Tuesday nights are sometimes hard to find games. But I think that's it. Always a game on.

Lphill's picture

I don't like Thursday night games only because it has to take its toll on the players still recovering from the Sunday game , if there was a way to schedule it after their bye week then maybe because it would give them another mini bye , maybe this would extend the season another week I don't know just my thoughts.

dobber's picture

The fairness and equity in scheduling is a big issue. As soon as college football no longer has a claim on Saturdays in December the NFL jumps right in there (so the only nights you won't find games are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday). The league used to be all about trying to maintain equity and fairness, but it's pretty much gone out the window.

CAG123's picture

I’m not too sure about that one, I’ve never seen TNF and Saturday football in the seem week by that time the Saturday games take place of TNF and when you do see Saturday games it’s more likely on holidays and playoff games.

dobber's picture

Granted, but it's the inconsistency that I'm pointing toward.

ricky's picture

Mark Cuban put it very well: "Pigs get fat; hogs get slaughtered." Football is heading for a fall by saturating the market, then over saturating it. Sure, the league will make money, but the networks will come to their senses sooner or later- won't they? There simply aren't enough compelling matchups. Chargers v. Bills is not going to be "must see viewing" for most of the nation.

MarkinMadison's picture

"...but the networks will come to their senses sooner or later- won't they?"

See my comment above. The networks are still making money off of this arrangement. They get a show that, even with its worst matchup of the 2017 season, is still pulling top ratings. And they get relatively low production costs to boot. From a business standpoint, TNF is a no-brainer.

John Kirk's picture

Players hate it and that's the best reason to get rid of it.

I understand the desire of the NFL for TNF with only 17 weeks (16 games) a season vs. 82 for the NBA and NHL and 162 for MLB. NFL is at a severe disadvantage so they're under the gun to maximize their much smaller slate of games. This is the main reason you get 4 preseason games.

For me, I wish the NFL would come up with a minor league, not like NFL Europe, that ran concurrently with the season. You could play those games exclusively on Thursday nights. I would watch a Packers developmental team. It would add an element to the game that is missing feeling like you might have help coming if you hit on a star in your farm system. Moving players from the minor league team and vice versa would be interesting. You may find that diamond in the rough that propels you to a SB. Would really like to see that kind of integration where all 32 teams have a minor league team they can get behind that is promoted by the NFL so it's relevant for fans.

CAG123's picture

I mean with the suddenness in which a NFL career can end I’m not sure another pit stop before the league makes sense. Kids are already getting concussions in high school so another level after college will leave this kids banged up by the time they can get called up. Imagine having an ACL tear in college say sophomore year only to have another your first year in the minors.

John Kirk's picture

This is why you run the league concurrently so there are no extra games or mileage put on a player. It's opposite of NFL Europe in that regard where fringe players aren't playing extra games and then joining the big team.

Not sure I understand your concern? If not for this minor league, these are guys who aren't playing anywhere unless they choose Canada or Arena. Packers bring 90 guys to camp. Almost 40 are cut. You have almost enough to field to field another 53 right there. It would be great being able to keep more than just 10 on a PS. You could keep them all with an additional few on an actual team not just a PS.

The biggest concern with a minor league is the extra games a player who had the ability to make the jump due to the idea the league would run at opposite schedule from the NFL like during summer. If you run it concurrent that concern isn't valid and you can fill Thursday void with that league. It may fail completely but I'd watch it if it was regionalized and I got to see the Packers minor league team every Thursday. It also would give young coaches a chance to develop. Would love to see it one day.

CAG123's picture

The risk of injuries isn’t reduced with a concurrent season though they could still pile up more concussions and ACL years and if a guy isn’t in the league then he probably doesn’t have what it takes and playing against other guys right out of college won’t really prepares them for the NFL.

dobber's picture

Except that you've distilled out the fringe players who would never have a shot at an NFL roster. The level of player should be better (although there are no guarantees on the quality of play).

John Kirk's picture is it not reduced? ...

I guess if you're saying let a guy be a street guy who isn't playing at all vs. being in a minor league then I get it. It would be better for the guys not playing to be playing to promote themselves rather than working at Hy-vee like Kurt Warner, who'd most recently been playing in the Arena League. His odds of being found at the local Iowa Hy-Vee vs. him showcasing his talents in a minor league are greatly improved if he'd been playing. Makes you wonder how many other Kurt Warner's have been missed who haven't been found working minimum wage jobs for the rest of their lives?

You're saying it's better for injury sake to let those who don't make NFL rosters work other jobs and just let the NFL find them off their old tape then having them play in a minor league due to risk of injury?

CAG123's picture

How does more football reduce the chance of injury? It’s one more stop before the NFL concurrent seasons or not but now it’s injuries they’ve sustained in an NFL minor to go along with the injuries they might have sustained in the college ranks. The only way this could work would for it to be another alternative for college so instead of going High school, college, minor, then league a player could go high school, minors, then league.

John Kirk's picture

We're dancing two different dances.

A minor league is for guys not in the NFL. It's either play in the minors, arena or CFL...or don't play at all. Not playing at all is the only way not to get injured. I'm not sure what you're getting at. There is no in between. Either you're playing football or you're not. Where you're playing doesn't reduce injury risk.

Do you understand the term concurrent? Either they'd be playing in the NFL or the minors. No extra football to get injured...unless they choose not to play at all.

Bearmeat's picture

I'd love to see a true minor league system. But it would have to be at the expense of college football - which regardless of how inefficient, backwards, and poor as a farm system, is a free minor league system for the NFL.

The NFL owners are just as likely to forgo free money as I am to win a lottery I don't ever play.

John Kirk's picture

My idea of a minor league is for college guys who for whatever reason don't make the 53 of all 32 NFL teams. It wouldn't be a place to go for guys who don't want to go to college.

No reason there couldn't be an age limit. 22 or 23. Sure, there may be those who didn't get a scholarship or weren't able to walk on but not letting them play until they're at an age after what would've been their Jr. year would nix them going from HS to minors.

Playing on Thursday only eliminates the competition with college Saturday and Friday. I can't believe something like this isn't already in place. As big of a mess and quandary as the BCS.

Qoojo's picture

It's all about the money. NFL doesn't care about player health. It only cares about player health when it costs them money (lawsuits). It's not going anywhere as long as a network gives them money to broadcast games.

cheesehead1's picture

Sunday’s and Monday night are fine. Would like to see Thursday night football go.

Tundraboy's picture

If the Players and Coaches hate it, what's to decide. Killing the golden goose.

Tundraboy's picture

Yay. My first 1/2 point?

EdsLaces's picture

They could have football every night that they want and I would still watch it....minus Tuesday. Tuesday is reserved for This is Us and my weekly cry. It's nice to get a good cry in once a week.

Mojo's picture

"It's nice to get a good cry in once a week." Weren't you watching GB during the second half of this last season?

Ds300916's picture

Agree that if the nfl was concerned with player safety they would do away with TNF or at least give a team a bye week before that game. However, TNF is more highly rated than Sunday afternoon (425) games, and I believe it only trails Sunday night football ratings wise. Also with 4 different channels bidding on it, the nfl will not slaughter this cash cow. TNF will be here for the foreseeable future.

worztik's picture

Cory, Your opinion has been heard and now’s the time to shut up!!! What are your options... more bachelor or bachelorette??? Surviver??? More romcoms??? More “reality” shows??? If ya don’t like Thursday night football, DON’T WATCH!!! The decreased viewership of NFL games is a direct result of the overpaid, dipsticks kneeling on the sidelines!!! Less revenue for teams will be made up in increased ticket prices, probably, but, then you wouldn’t have had a topic to write about today. I’m so sick and tired of the few trying to dictate to the many!!! Turn the channel or turn the power off... I could care less what you watch but, leave my football watching decisions to me!!! It’s not costing you anything...

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Thursday night and Monday night games are frequently only on cable. I cut the cord years ago so I can't watch many of these games. Monday Night Football was the most watched cable program of the year, even outperforming HBO's smash hit Game of Thrones. Sunday Night Football dropped from 20.323 million to 18.175 million, ESPN's Monday Night Football from 11.390 million to 10.757 million and Thursday Night Football (which aired on NFL Network as well as CBS or FOX) from 12.438 million to 10.937 million.

A lot of this drop is because games are only on cable. Other factors include injuries to star players and poor match-ups.

We don't need another minor league. I can watch Cleveland, Giants, Indy and Chicago games, after all.

worztik's picture

I had a post here before and I believe it’s disappeared... where did it go????

flackcatcher's picture

I wish the owners and the commissar of the NFL would read these comments and Cory's article. Short term thinking has gotten the NFL into this mess. The only way out, is to protect the long term health of the players and reduce the number of games to max out the revenue stream. Not that I see that happening short term. Both owners and players are only concern with the now, and not seeing the crap storm that is rolling down hill right at them. Well, the NFL can't say we fans didn't warn them.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Well, I'm back. Not feeling good, but Good Enough to throw in a comment on this article. There is only 1 reason that Sunday Night, Monday Night, & Thursday Night Football were created. It's called Gambling. There are Millions of Dollars at stake for Las Vegas. Sure, the TV networks probably get better ratings & higher revenue, but the Big Money is Gambling. Las Vegas connects Thursday Football to Sunday mornings & afternoons. Sunday afternoons to Sunday Nights, & Sunday Nights to Monday Nights. All those betters that lost their tickets Sunday mornings or afternoons, can bet again using Sunday & Monday Night. Like I said, there is Millions of Dollars involved for Las Vegas. Because of the Health issues, I can see Thursday Night Football going away, but it will be Replaced with something else, & it won't be the NFL pulling the plug, it will be Las Vegas. There is just too much money involved. Gambling is the main reason all of these Football Nights were created. As I said, for Health reasons, I do see Thursday Night Football going away, but it will be replaced with something else. Just my Opinion!!

dobber's picture

Speedy recovery to you, LVT!

Bearmeat's picture

Great point LVT. Hope you feel better!

Since '61's picture

Feel better LVT! Always enjoy your point of view. Thanks, Since '61

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Thanks to everyone for your Good Wishes. Sports Caster Bob Costas made a statement within the last month or so. He said the NFL will soon change into something completely different, or something to that effect. As Crazy as it sounds, I can see it happening. He didn't elaborate, but he was saying a Big Change was coming, & soon. Just Guessing, because of just the Concussion Issue, I can see a day when maybe you can't Tackle a QB, or a WR?? Sounds Far Fetched, but with all the possible Law Suits, players will have to sign off of any injury suits, or the game will have to change in some way. Anyway, this is the way Costas was talking. It makes sense that something will change.

4zone's picture

It will be the player's union during the next round of contract negotiations that pulls this plug.

Johnblood27's picture

I do not believe for one split second that any of the non-Sunday NFL television packages was created OR ARE supported by gambling.

Gambling has integrated itself into society with ties to professional sports, however Las Vegas certainly does NOT pull the strings or make those decisions.

All the non-Sunday television packages were created to generate advertising time for the networks via the extremely popular conduit of NFL football. For that matter, the televising of the Sunday packages were created for the exact same reason, advertising and the income it generates.

Pete Rozell was after all a public relations marketing/advertising guy...

You have the tail wagging the dog LVT.

4thand10's picture

I hate the European games...they want to open the television market there and it's not going to happen because most watch Rugby and Soccer. Plus each of our teams that goes there loses a home game for their own stadium revenue.

Thursday nights... with people working, and players playing on a short week isn't worth it IMHO

4zone's picture

It's called the Law of Diminishing Returns. A basic business concept that's way over the head of the NFL. Some day soon, people are going to start getting seriously ticked at the NFL's greed driven stupidity and will start leaving in droves. The cracks in the dam are already getting bigger.

Big Moe's picture

I ONLY watch if the Packers are on, otherwise I flat out refuse to support thur night football, I have never watched any other games it's a terrible idea and horrible for the players, and I won't endorse it past keeping up with the Pack.

comeonman's picture

According to Spoff at, Thu night NFL football was the 2nd highest rated games, the only slot that beat it was the late Sun night premier match ups. Thu night football is going nowhere. (Not counting Mon Night Football)

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