Players question wisdom, safety of Thursday NFL games

Adequate healing, practice time compromised to accommodate NFL's Thursday night games.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald woke up Monday morning after a tough loss in San Francisco on Sunday and tweeted this:

The NFL constantly reminds us that it cares about player safety, and we genuinely believe them. But there is one thing the NFL cares about a little more: Revenue. That's why it is willing to throw players back on the field on just three days rest after their bodies and minds have taken a beating -- to do it all over again.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians admitted on Monday that the Cardinals wouldn't really be practicing this week in preparation for Thursday night's game against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium.

"You don’t practice, you walk through," he said. "Their bodies cannot practice. There’s no way a guy can practice after a game like that, or any game.”

It's obvious that a lack of physical reps will impact a game plan, and it seems obvious that a lack of rest puts players at greater risk of injury. And yet, the Wall Street Journal reported this week that the NFL is considering adding more Thursday games -- a report the NFL denied.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also announced last week that the league has found no evidence that Thursday night games produce more injuries than any other game. Forgive our skepticism on a sample size of 21 games. Simple logic dictates that when a body has not fully healed from previous injuries, it should not be rushed back into harm's way again -- not to mention the cumulative effect that two games in such short order have on a body.

"I love hearing that stuff from guys who never played the game at this level," said one player, who requested anonymity. "Roger Goodell has never been a guy who gets it."

Thursday's game might be even harder on the Seahawks, who have to travel on a short week, but both clubs are resigned to their fate.

"I can't do anything about it," Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "If they tell us to go play on Thursday, we have to go play on Thursday."

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is at least heartened by the fact that both teams are in the same situation.

“We know that it’s relative. It is a challenge, though," Carroll said. "It’s a physical challenge on these guys to get their bodies to come back this fast."

That's not the only challenge this week. Preparation is another.

Arians joked that his staff started game-planning for this matchup last summer because he knew the team wouldn't have any significant practice time this week. So if it sounds like both teams are in survival mode as the game approaches, well, that's because they are.

"We have to get through this thing," Carroll said, "Get all the studying done, get all the buildup properly handled and hope that physically they are ready to cut it loose."

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