The NFL’s priority isn’t football, it’s making sure the money printer goes “brrrrr” perpetually — even if it means sacrificing the soul of football in the process. With sports media all in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl the league is already making announcements about its plans for the 2024 season, and get ready to have more nights of week dominated by he NFL.
The tradition of opening the season has always been clear. We get Thursday Night Football to open with a marquee matchup, then a flood of games on Sunday, then round out the week with a double-header on Monday Night Football. This has been the schedule for 20 years, but now the NFL is changing it up.
The league’s current obsession with international expansion is seeping into opening weekend, with the Eagles set to play their first game in Sao Paolo — the first time in 50 years a game has been played on a Friday night.
It’s clear this is a litmus test by the league to see how far they can push fans to tune into primetime games, with the hopes that everyone will watch football whenever it’s on, therefore allowing the league to sell more broadcast rights. You best believe they’d enjoy nothing more than have Friday Night Football to sell to a media partner, should this test go well.
The problem is that football isn’t served by spreading games across multiple dates. In fact, it takes away for much of what makes the sport brilliant. The magic of the NFL on Sunday is the shared experience of having an inundation of games to watch. It’s about watching your favorite team play, while checking the scores of your fantasy league in real-time as almost everyone is playing at once. It’s about watching NFL RedZone until the 4 p.m. slate to see the game you care about.
When we spread the NFL out it just gets worse. We lose the saturation of football on Sunday, and a leaner slate only serves the league’s bottom line.
It remains to be seen whether the league will run a double-header on Monday night again, but if they do it means that 10 teams will play in primetime on Week 1, with eight games starting at 1 p.m. and three at 4:25 p.m. It’ll essentially feel like a heavy bye week on the first week of football, and that sucks.
This is before we talk about the NFL sucking all the oxygen out of football. Friday night is supposed to be high school’s time to shine — not forcing families between seeing their kids play, or their NFL team. It’s also been proven time and time again that short-week schedules that force teams to play on Thursday results in bad football, where Friday wouldn’t be much better if the league decides to make this the norm.
NFL scheduling is perfect as it is. We don’t need the shield to try and dominate every single night, just because it can. At some point the fabric of football can’t be stretched anymore just to accommodate money, and fans are the ones forced to pay the price for this kind of ludicrous forced expansion.
Just stop, NFL.