Pro Football Hall of Famer John Madden has spent more than half of his life watching NFL football, and for the most part, he seems to enjoy all of it, except for one thing: Thursday night games.
During a podcast with the Bay Area News Group this week, the 80-year-old former coach and broadcaster said that the NFL needs to dump Thursday games, or at least change the strategy around them by giving both teams a bye before they play in the game.
"Something has to be done about "Thursday Night Football." It just doesn't work." Madden said. "It's not only a fan thing, it's a team thing. It's a safety thing. It's a competitive thing. It doesn't work. I know about money, and I know about business. Maybe you have to tweak stuff a little more. To help teams, maybe you get a bye the week before."
Madden also said that Thursday night games could be one of the reasons that ratings have fallen this season.
"What's happens is there are not a lot of good teams, and they have too many windows to put these games in," the Super Bowl winning coach said. "When you think of an early Sunday window, a late Sunday window, a Sunday night window, a Monday night window, a Thursday night window. They all want good games, and there's not enough good teams."
The downside of Thursday games is that a team can get the short end of the stick when it comes to scheduling, and that's exactly what is happening to the Redskins for their Thanksgiving game against Dallas, according to Madden.
"On Thanksgiving, Washington has to travel to Dallas to play in Dallas, and they played Sunday night. That's wrong. That's an oops," Madden said. "You play a team on Sunday night and make them travel and play on Thursday. I remember in my coaching days, as players get older, it takes them longer to heal up from a Sunday game, and guys weren't ready to play until Thursday or Friday."
Madden didn't mention the Steelers, but they also got a wrench thrown at them by the people who make the NFL schedule. The Steelers have to play a road game on Thanksgiving, just four days after playing a road game. Since 2007, the Steelers are the only NFL team that has had to play two road games in four days.
Although Madden complained about Thursday night, football, he'll definitely be watching on Thanksgiving, a football holiday tradition that he has no problem with.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm goofy. I watch them all," Madden said of Thanksgiving games. "It's not, 'Boy, that Madden, he just loves football and he can't live without it.' I'm always afraid I'm going to miss something. 'Oh shoot, I didn't see that!' So I want to watch it."
The 80-year-old, who coached the Raiders from 1969 to 1978, also said the he's in good health, despite undergoing surgery on several body parts this year, including his heart, hip, knee and esophagus.