The Pittsburgh Steelers found out this week that they’ll be playing on Thursday Night Football twice in 2023.
Pittsburgh will take on the Tennessee Titans in Week 9 on Thursday night. They’ll also face the New England Patriots on Thursday night in Week 14.
The Steelers will host both matchups.
Pittsburgh defensive back Patrick Peterson, an offseason addition for the Steelers, made it clear this week on his “All Things Covered” podcast that he’s not a fan of playing multiple Thursday night games.
Peterson described having two Thursday night games as “bizarre” before noting that the Thursday night games don’t give players enough time to recover.
“I thought it was just a rumor when they said they were gonna have teams eligible now for two Thursday night games,” said Peterson.
“My goodness, bro. That’s what, five weeks apart? It’s tough enough getting up for the first Thursday night game, better yet another one,” continued the eight-time pro bowler.
Peterson understands why the NFL likes the Thursday night games, but that doesn’t mean he thinks it’s a good idea for NFL players.
“I get it, they want to find ways to get ball on TV, but they need to be thinking about our bodies, man,” said Peterson. “Me being in Year 13, my body doesn’t recover like it used to. Some guys, their body doesn’t recover, period. To have two Thursday night games is a bit bizarre.”
The NFL likes to point to multiple studies that suggest there are no more injuries during Thursday night games than there are during Sunday or Monday games.
I’m not going to dispute the studies, though I think it’s pretty obvious that they don’t tell the whole story.
Players don’t always report every nagging injury they suffer. Fringe roster players are likely to avoid reporting those injuries because they don’t want to fall down the depth chart or lose their job.
(If you need proof of that, just watch a recent video from former NFL linebacker Will Compton who admitted he practiced with a small hamstring tear during his first training camp because he didn’t want to blow his chance to make a roster.)
The NFL needs to listen to the players. The players are the only ones who know what it feels like to play on Thursday nights and what kind of recovery time is needed.
Just because the studies say one thing, doesn’t mean the players’ feelings about Thursday nights are wrong. They’re the ones putting their bodies on the line. But I guess the money is far more important to the NFL (and the owners) than player safety — though that’s not exactly a revelation. We’ve known for a long time that money is at the forefront of every decision the NFL makes.