The NFL does not care about player health. They institute new rules they claim are for health and safety, they put money into research on equipment changes, and they have talked a good game after various lawsuits. But at the end of the day, the NFL does not really care about player health insomuch as if affecting their bottom line.
The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders square off this week on Thursday Night Football, which means they get to be the weekly spotlight example of why the NFL does not care about player health. The two teams played on Sunday, and will play four days later following three days of rest.
The NFL has repeatedly talked about TNF injury reports are not any worse than those of Sunday and Monday games. However, the NFL regularly ignores issues related to bodies recovering from a football game. Most any player will tell you that when completely healthy it takes them three or four days to really feel absolutely right after a football game. That’s not even factoring in the fact that most players are at least a little banged up midway through the season — even if they do not appear on the injury report.
TNF teams can technically practice Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in preparation for the game. However, most give players a rest day on Monday, and only hold a single full practice on Tuesday.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan met with the media on Monday, and he said the players are getting Monday off to begin resting up their bodies. Injured players will come in for treatment, but the rest of the team will not report to the facility until Tuesday morning.
“The players have got to come in here for treatment, but my experience with these games that come so fast and guys don’t have the time to recover, the best thing for recovery is sleep. So, the guys who are injured have got to come in and rehab, but everyone else we’re not going to see today. Then, they’re going to come in tomorrow, we’re going to push it back a little bit more tomorrow morning just so they can sleep in a little bit more. Then, I’ll talk about this game quickly at our team meeting, but we’ve got to move on to Oakland very fast.”
The NFL has shown no serious movement to make a change to TNF. They could remove it entirely, but owners are not going to give up the kind of money it makes them. The FOX deal is reportedly worth $660 million per year, while the Amazon streaming deal is reportedly worth up to $65 million this year.
Since we know NFL owners will not give up that kind of money, the other option is to either set it up so teams play on TNF coming off their bye week, or add a second bye week to stretch out the schedule. There has been some mention of that for a potential expansion to an 18-game schedule, but nothing has come of it. Ideally, the NFL would add the second bye week and keep the schedule at 16 games.
Whatever the case, the 49ers and Raiders have to play this game, and there’s nothing they can do about it. The two teams released their Monday practice participation reports, and both are estimated. Teams are required to release three practice reports each week, and when they don’t practice, it is estimated based on if they had actually practiced.
Here are the full participation reports for the first day of “practice.”
49ers Monday practice participation report
DNP: QB C.J. Beathard (right wrist), S Antone Exum (concussion), LB Reuben Foster (hamstring), WR Pierre Garçon (shoulder, knee), RB Raheem Mostert (ankle), G Mike Person (ankle), C Weston Richburg (knee), CB Richard Sherman (calf, heel), T Joe Staley (ankle), S Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder)
Limited: RB Matt Breida (ankle)
Raiders Monday practice participation report
DNP: T T.J. Clemmings (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee)
Limited: G Jon Feliciano (ribs), C Rodney Hudson (ankle), DE Bruce Irvin (pectoral), G Gabe Jackson (pectoral), T Kolton Miller (knee), CB Daryl Worley (shoulder)