On Monday, respected San Francisco 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin held an online video chat with fans via the Bay Area News Group and shared some strong words for the NFL regarding player safety. A few minutes into his Q and A session, a fan asked Boldin what he thought of the recently released PBS documentary League of Denial, which is critical of the way the NFL has handled concussion protocol.
While Boldin said he didn't see the documentary and initially praised the league for the steps it has made to be proactive against head injuries, he said he doesn't agree with the concept of Thursday night games. You can watch his statement at the 4:14 mark of the video below, via Bay Area News Group:
Here is the full text of Boldin's quote:
But there are some things that just don't make sense to me. If you're so concerned about player safety then why do you have every team in the league playing on Thursday night when they just competed on a Sunday, knowing exactly how difficult it is for guys to get back to being healthy after playing on Sunday? Guys really don't feel like they're back 'til probably Thursday or Friday to prepare for that next week. ... The league can say they're doing things to protect guys, but I'm not one of the guys buying it.
That's a strong statement from an 11-year veteran with the license to speak his mind. It also comes just a week after former Baltimore Ravens teammate Terrell Suggs also had some sharp criticism regarding the NFL and the League of Denial documentary, via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun:
Suggs On League of Denial: "From their standpoint, I think they're looking forward to covering their own ass more than player safety."— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) October 9, 2013
For 2013, Commissioner Roger Goodell approved a measure to have all 32 NFL teams play one game on Thursday Night Football throughout the year, and it has become a weekly ratings boon.
According to press releases via Zap2It.com, the Sept. 19 Thursday night matchup between the Philadelphia Philadelphia Egles and Kansas City Chiefs attracted 9.4 million viewers, making it the highest-rated Thursday night football game ever on NFL Network. Last week's game featuring the New York Giants and Chicago Bears reportedly attracted 7.8 million viewers and had a bigger audience than MLB's Game 5 ALDS playoff matchup between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A's.
With weekly ratings like that, TNF probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Goodell has caught some flack for pondering other options like expanding the regular season to 18 games, but at what point does player safety trump the revenue?
Goodell's tenure as commissioner has been a tenuous one, as he touts the league's desire to promote player safety and awareness. But his actions speak otherwise and Boldin has a valid point: The league looks like it's pushing aside safety for more money.
Two football games in the span of five days may be good for fans, but it's unhealthy for the people who make it happen: the players.