Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday Games, and One More Hurdle to Climb

To accurately simulate the network previews of this game, just stare at this image for a solid hour (no blinking!)
And no thinking about Frank Gore or Ray Lewis or Alex Smith or Ed Reed.

Here's the thing. I whined about this a little last season, and I will again here. I don't like the Thursday games, generally. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm more forgiving of the Thanksgiving games, since that's an organic tradition [for the Lions and Cowboys, at least. This third game on NFL Network the 49ers find themselves involved in, much less so]. I'm still going to watch. I'm still going to care. If Alex Smith breaks pattern from the rest of this season and Makes The Big Fuck-Up that he's avoided all season long to this point (with Ed Reed lurking in Baltimore's secondary, this is a likely possibility) I'll work every variation of "fucker" into a single run-on sentence screamed impotently at my television.

But Sunday to Thursday just doesn't seem like enough time for the human body to recover from playing football enough to go out and once again play football. You can't play football every three days. It's not like basketball. Especially in our current times, when each day brings more medical revelations about the dire consequences of concussions [Getting hit hard in the head and having your brain literally bounce around and get bruised inside your skull is BAD FOR YOU! Who knew?]. Fortunately as far as I can tell no team gets more than 1 Thursday game a year. More than that might eventually be lethal.

It's rough on the players, and one could argue unfair to the fans, who don't get to see the players at full strength/capacity, or even with a full week of practice or preparation [Sunday: Game. Monday: Recovery/no practice as mandated by the new labor agreement. Tuesday: Practice the game plan (which thus must be completely created by the coaches in 1 day). Wednesday: Half-practice in the morning, fly to site of game in afternoon. Thursday: Play again.] Ray Lewis, for instance, likely won't play in this game for Baltimore, whereas if this were a Sunday game he well might. Ray Lewis is what you pay for when you buy a ticket to a Baltimore Ravens game. It's who the networks have in mind when they want/get the Ravens in a prime time slot or feature game (like this one).

Seems like the Thanksgiving Day teams, at least, ought to get their bye week the week before.

The 49ers never play on Thanksgiving. I like this. It makes them -- and us fans -- the opposite of the Dallas Cowboys and their fans. Apparently they did once, in 1972, and beat Dallas, but that's John Brodie/Dick Nolan era stuff, and long before a chemical reaction and a chain of protein began to coalesce and replicate itself and lead to me, so as far as I've observed, this is a first. I blame the schedule makers, seeing that the interconference rotation brought up NFC West vs AFC North, and with it what is now a head-to-head head coaching duel between the Brothers Harbaugh.

Moreso I blame the modern marketing fascination with "storytelling" and manufacturing drama to sell any product to the mythical "casual fan". This isn't a prime slot game based on the usual merit -- bad teams one year don't get prime time games the next year, and the 49ers were not only bad last year, but consistently laid eggs in the prime slot games they were scheduled for, showcasing their un-worth for all to see. As it turns out they are good enough to warrant the national audience this year, after all, but aren't scheduled for it this year because, hey, who could've known. Except for Tomorrow (now technically later today). And it's nothing to do with how good the 49ers are, or how good the Ravens are. Its so the promotional dept. of the NFL can go into autopilot and the broadcast team for NFL network can point out the obvious gag that "Thanksgiving is about family coming together and hey hey the NFL family is coming together look we've got brothers coaching against each other!" and follow it up with 197 iterations and repetitions of jokes about "do ya think John and Jim used to be competitive over who got the last spoonful of cranberry sauce? Ha Ha Ha!" like it's the most wittiest and original observation ever and I'm already so sick of this bullshit that I feel like I'm chewing on glass and it hasn't even actually STARTED HAPPENING yet.


Whiouxsie said...

And then the game happened and I actually chewed on glass for a while.

Neil said...

I understand. I spent a couple of hours chewing on shit.