New York Post
A Good Wife’s Lament
Get rid of Thursday-night NFL
TOWARD the end of every summer, my husband sends me a list of 20 or so dishes he would like me to cook for him. It’s different every year and includes things like Frito pie, gumbo, clam chowder, taquitos, ribs.
No, we’re not going through “Mad Men” withdrawal or pining for Eisenhower’s America. This is how we observe the very modern ritual of football season. But the NFL’s greedy investment in Thursdaynight games is threatening a schism in the Gridiron Church.
My husband’s dish list keeps me busy while he lounges on our couch watching the games. Some years, I don’t get to all of them, and they roll over to the following year. Some dishes become beloved and therefore frequently repeated.
On Sundays during the football season, my husband doesn’t accompany me to the many children’s birthday parties that our kids get invited to. We don’t make plans to go out. My husband isn’t responsible for errands. We don’t do any shopping. I don’t engage him in conversation about anything more complicated than “What’s the score?” and “So you want more of that?”
On this day each week, I’m not just the good wife. I’m the best wife.
But my husband deserves a share of the credit for that. He ingeniously turned Football Sunday, long dreaded by women everywhere, into a family day. The kids wear their jerseys, our siblings and my inlaws come over and I spend the day happily cooking and feeding the whole family.
On Monday nights, his perfect life gets a little less perfect. Sure, he can watch the game if we have no other plans. But unless his team is playing, I don’t accommodate football madness on Mondays.
A few years ago, Thursdays started creeping into the rotation. Then, suddenly, every Thursday there was a televised NFL game. This is the penalty known in the NFL as “encroachment.”
Look, I’m an understanding woman. All day Sunday, sure. Monday — OK, fine.
But Thursday, too? Nope. Not happening. A third day of football each week is where I draw the line.
It turns out I’m not alone in my opposition to Thursdaynight football, and there are actually more legitimate reasons to hate the Thursday games than “enough football already.”
It’s not just putupon wives; the players themselves are starting to rebel. The quick turnaround for players who play on Sunday and then again on Thursday of that week leads to sloppier games and, far more seriously both morally and for the NFL’s bottom line (which is what matters to the league; let’s be honest), puts the players at heightened risk for injury.
Writing on ESPN.com, Kevin Seifert compared the Thursday games to an uncle no one wants to see but has to be tolerated. Nate Scott in USA Today said the games are similar to candy corn — no one likes it, but it’s a staple of the season and people eat it anyway.
A few weeks ago, after a particularly sloppy game, The Post’s Paul Schwartz quoted Giants head coach Tom Coughlin — no wuss, he — as saying the Thursdaynight games are “like a shoehorn with a size less than what fits your foot. You’ve got to cram it in there.”
In a game already criticized for not taking injuries seriously enough, are three fewer days to recover and prepare for more bodily punishment worth it?
Seifert also noted, “There is every reason to believe the NFL will retain and possibly expand weekday football in years to come.” That’s probably true.
But it’s crazy. Part of what makes football so alluring and enjoyable is its rarity. Few people watch every single basketball or baseball game, yet a large number of football fans watch every single game, and football is, by far, the most popular televised sport in the country.
And the schedule is perfectly designed: Interrupting a day on the weekend, and only 16 times a year plus the playoffs, is far less intrusive than other major sports.
Adding more weekdays to the schedule will make the NFL money but cost it some of its cachet — and certainly the understanding of nonsportsfan wives like me.
Let’s not take that chance. End Thursdaynight football.