From Ed Sherman at Chicago Tribune on November 26, 2014:
The quality of Thursday games has been a controversial subject for the NFL this year. But don’t expect to hear any complaints from Jim Nantz.
Jim Nantz, CBS’ number one NFL play-by-play man, is working harder than ever before. And, according to Chicago Tribune writer Ed Sherman’s reporting, he’s loving every minute. Nantz, and his partner Phil Simms, called the last two Bears’ games, losses to the Lions and Cowboys on subsequent Thursdays. The duo often pull double-duty calling games on Thursdays and Sundays in an effort to bring respectability to the broadcast. While most fans can’t get enough football, the Thursday slate of games is oft-criticized. Rightfully so.
For years, critics have frowned upon the National Football League’s decision to air games on Thursdays. Lack of player energy, poor quality of play and lopsided outcomes negate the “big event” experience often associated with professional football. But Nantz believes in the NFL’s strategy of airing mostly intra-division matchups on Thursdays amps up the atmosphere. “For the players’ sake, it’s easier for them to get ready for a divisional opponent than someone they haven’t seen in years… the atmosphere for these games has been really good. The crowds have been pumped up.” So does a Jaguars vs. Titans match up excite you? Well, it’s coming to a big screen near you on Thursday, December 18th. I’m not buying Nantz’s premise. Neither should you.
The Bears lost 34 – 17 to the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day and followed that up with a deceivingly close 41 – 28 loss at home to the Cowboys. These Thursday blow outs are definitely not the exception. Jim Nantz won’t allow himself to see the problem. But take a look at the outcomes and the truth is painfully obvious. Thursday night football is good for the NFL bottom line. But it’s not good for much else.