Enough is enough. The NFL needs to start re-examining its holiday football lineup and stop scheduling games that put teams at a competitive disadvantage.
I'm talking, of course, about the San Diego-Tennessee contest on Christmas, which is a terrific matchup except for one thing -- it's unfair to the Chargers. Not only must the Bolts fly across country after a short work week, they have the pleasure of playing an opponent that hasn't left home in three weeks.
|Norv Turner's Chargers aren't too happy they have to fly two time zones to Nashville on a short week. (US Presswire)|
So while the Chargers went through a workout Tuesday, installing their offense and defense for Friday’s game, the Titans were home … and I mean that literally … after a short walkthrough and meetings. They resume practice Wednesday and Thursday, then stay home Friday until that evening’s game.
The Chargers, meanwhile, practice Tuesday and Wednesday, fly to Nashville Wednesday afternoon and have a walk-through Thursday before waiting around for kickoff. When the NFL talked about parity, I don't think this is what it had in mind.
It's bad enough that anyone plays on Christmas, and don't get me started on the subject. I understand it's all about ratings, and I also understand the NFL Network needs them. But why play a game that is unfair to one of the clubs involved?
I mean, the league couldn't find anyone closer to Nashville? Please. What about an Indianapolis-Tennessee game? Peyton Manning plus Chris Johnson equals ratings. Or what about Miami and Tennessee? The Dolphins not only were a playoff team last season; they won their division.
Indianapolis is 251 miles from Nashville. Miami is 815. San Diego is 1,744. Anybody find something wrong there?
I do, and I suspect I'll find a sympathetic audience in Arizona or New York. It was the Cardinals who last year played a Thanksgiving night game in Philadelphia after traveling across country on a short work week. The Cardinals were angry, believing it put them at a competitive disadvantage against an opponent with which they were unfamiliar.
They didn't say much about it before the game, but they did afterward -- and maybe a 48-20 waxing had something to do with it.
Then we have the New York Giants this season. They were scheduled for a Thanksgiving night date in Denver and complained as Arizona did the year before. They were especially annoyed that Denver was home the previous weekend (sound familiar?), with team president and CEO John Mara complaining to the league office that it was "a competitive disadvantage" for the Giants to play two time zones away on a short week.
Of course it was. But it was for Arizona, too, and look what happened: nothing. The Giants got as far with their gripes as the Cardinals, and they did about as well on the field -- dropping a 26-6 decision where they looked listless and disinterested.
Mara is a member of the NFL competition committee, and he promised that the group would address the subject after this season. We can only hope. At some point, the schedule makers at 280 Park Avenue must understand that it just isn't a good idea to have teams travel two and three time zones on short work weeks.
The clubs complain, the league does nothing and the games stink.
Maybe this week's Titans-Chargers game will be different, I don't know. San Diego hasn't dropped a December game to anyone with Philip Rivers at quarterback, and Tennessee just lost two starting linebackers to injuries. But the NFL leveled the field by forcing the Chargers to fly two time zones to play somebody that hasn't gone anywhere in weeks.
Yeah, it should be a terrific game. Yeah, I'll watch it. And, yeah, it's liable to be closer ... a lot closer ... than the fiasco the Giants and Cardinals suffered. But that's not the point. The Chargers shouldn't have to do this.
So they were scheduled to play in Nashville. Put them there on Oct. 11 and move Indianapolis, which played that date, to Christmas.
Or how about Miami? As I said, that's a marquee matchup, too. At least it was when the schedule was made. In fact, Miami had a better season last year than San Diego, even though it didn't go as far in the playoffs. Plus, the Dolphins would have to travel half the distance as San Diego.
Somebody in the NFL isn't listening. The league represents the clubs, and some of those clubs aren't happy with the holiday scheduling. So change it and make it more geographically smart and less of a headache -- not because the Chargers or Giants or Cardinals complain, but because it's the right and fair thing to do.