Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman isn't the only one who is less than enamored with Thursday-night games, turns out.
"I think every player kind of understands the toll that those games take on your body," said Philadelphia Eagles safety and player rep Malcolm Jenkins. "I think that Thursday games, and the talk about adding two more games [to the regular-season schedule], those are going to be hot topics as we get closer and closer to the end of that deal."
Last week, Sherman referred to the ongoing scheduling of Thursday games as a "poopfest". He called it hypocritical that the NFL would take a strong public stance about player safety, then turn around and "put the players in tremendous danger."
Fresh off a road loss to the bruising Baltimore Ravens, several players on the Eagles offered their thoughts on the matter in front of their upcoming Thursday night tilt with the New York Giants.
"It's obviously tough," said tight end Zach Ertz, still in uniform following Sunday's game. "Guys gotta really start recovering right now. A lot of guys hit the cold tubs already. And then when we get back [to Philadelphia], guys will do the same.”
Ertz believes the NFL should eliminate a preseason game and add in a mini-bye surrounding Thursday games to allow for proper recovery. Veteran tackle Jason Peters was thinking along the same lines. He proposed that teams who are playing on Thursday night should play on Saturday the week before.
"I think it can be better," Peters said.
"Congratulations, NFL, you did it again. But they've been doing it all season, so I guess we're the last ones to get the middle finger," he said.
"We'll be well-aware come the next CBA negotiations about things like this."
The Collective Bargaining Agreement runs through the 2020 season, so no major changes seem likely to come before then. The focus at the moment is to push for smaller changes in other areas to reduce unnecessary strain during a player's work week.
Jenkins and his fellow player reps appear to have made some progress in that regard when it comes to postgame drug testing. He explained that each week, a handful of teams are randomly selected for performance-enhancing drug tests, to be taken after the game. Under the current set-up, those tests are performed at each team's respective home facility. So if you're on the road that week, you cap your travel back that night with a trip to the practice complex to give your sample.
"Well, Monday night versus Chicago we came back and had to do drug tests here at 2 in the morning," said Jenkins. "Same thing with Seattle. We get back 3 in the morning, and guys have to come here and take a drug test. So we brought that to the attention of the NFLPA, and I think that's something that they're rectifying to make sure we can do that at the visiting stadium. So it's small things that, when you're traveling back and forth, you talk about sleep and recovery and getting to the next game, there are some things obviously that you can do to clean it up."
As for the Thursday-night games, the players just have to grin and bear it for now.
"It's tough, but the Giants have got to do it, too," said Ertz. "Everyone's got to do it in the league. And we're excited for Thursday."
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