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The NFL has been a hotbed of scrutiny in recent years, from sources both outside and within, and the subject of Thursday Night Football is particularly debate-worthy as of late. Very recently, in fact, rumors started swirling concerning the League actually having a plan to potentially end the weekly one-off game, or a similarly limiting maneuver. But now the NFL has spoken up about such things, and as you might imagine, the official stance is that no such change of the status quo is in the works. Here's the statement.
We are fully committed to Thursday Night Football, and any reports to the contrary are unfounded.
The NFL is not the kind of company that teases the public when it comes to big changes like "ending Thursday Night Football," so it would have been a shock for this statement, which comes courtesy of Deadline, to head in any other direction. When there's a deal worth this much money at play, every step has to be considered 1,001 times.
This year marks the first season that Thursday Night Football's telecasts were split up between three separate networks, with NFL Network sharing a portion of its airings with CBS and NBC, with the latter two networks taking a financial hit to control a piece of a bona fide ratings winner. Although the winner side of that is relative, since this year's ratings have been down for NFL games overall, despite it being more accessible than ever, which is one of the factors that plays into the report from NBC Sports' Mike Florio as a cause for League conversations regarding TNF's fate. And there are different reasons for the ratings droop that serve as their own independent defense for the report's feasibility.
For one, Thursday Night Football contests aren't always guaranteed to be must-see games, and the NFL is right at that over-saturation point where not even diehard fans feel the need to tune in all the time. Even when there are two good teams playing, it doesn't always result in an amazing contest, since the shortened week means not all the players have had proper time to heal and gameplan accordingly. That, in turn, plays a role in players getting injured more, and some critics of NFL head honcho Roger Goodell question how the NFL can be so concerned about player safety in some respects, but not in the understanding that having time to heal is everything for some players.
It's a complicated situation, to say the least, and it's very easy to see why any reports of Thursday Night Football's potentially doomed future were believable to many who read them. (And, technically, still are believable to those who won't be convinced by NFL statements.) Any way it goes, we'd get at least one Thursday night game a year for Thanksgiving, but only time will tell if the NFL decides to revert back to that seasonal schedule or not. Thursday Night Football airs weekly on NFL Network and NBC.