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|12-05-2006, 07:50 PM||#1|
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If Tuesday is a Thursday, this must be the NFL
If Tuesday is a Thursday, this must be the NFL
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
By BOB LABRIOLA
When is a Tuesday like a Thursday, a Wednesday like a Friday, and a Monday like a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday combined? When you're part of the new Thursday night football series on the NFL Network, that's when.
One day after the Steelers upped their record to 5-7 with a 20-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Coach Bill Cowher, his staff and the players were beginning a whirlwind week that will have them cram six days of healing and preparation into about 72 intense hours, all culminating with an 8 p.m. kickoff against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, Dec. 7 at Heinz Field.
Back in April, the NFL Network announced its schedule of primetime regular-season games airing as part of the NFL's new Thursday/Saturday "Run Up to the Playoffs" national package. The 2006 game telecast schedule on NFL Network features five Thursday night games and three Saturday night games from Weeks 12 to 17 of the NFL season.
This week, it impacts the Steelers and the Browns.
"If you're a fan, it's great to have football in the middle of the week, unless you are playing in it," said Coach Bill Cowher. "I guess both teams are in the same situation, but I am not a big fan of it at this time of year. It is what it is. It is part of the entertainment business we are in. It will be nice over the (following) weekend, but there will be a lot of work between now and Thursday."
Cowher joked that he was going to have to condense three days into one just to get the week started, but there was some truth to what he said.
During a typical week, a team will use Monday to look back at the game just played and begin to formulate a plan for the upcoming opponent. On Tuesday, the coaches meet for hours until they come up with the game plan for the next opponent. On Wednesday, that game plan is presented to the players, and the first meetings and practice sessions are devoted to implementing it.
On this week's Monday, the Steelers spent little or no time reviewing the Buccaneers game, the coaches devised the game plan and then it was presented to the players later the same afternoon with a practice scheduled for early in the evening.
There it is ? Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday all crammed into one 18-hour period.
"I went back, and the three Thursday games we've played since I have been here, we always took Monday and gave the players the day off and game-planned and then came in and worked two days," said Cowher. "We were 0-3 in those games, so that's why I kind of looked around and talked to some teams that have done this.
"The consensus was to come in (Monday) afternoon and try to treat this like a Wednesday, and tomorrow will be like a normal Thursday, and then Wednesday will be like a Friday, like you do in the preseason because you are playing the next night, so we will still have a little workout on Friday, and go to the hotel on Wednesday night and get up and have a normal game day routine."
If somebody ever makes the claim than an NFL player doesn't even know what day it is, now you know why.
"I think the last Thursday game we played was Thanksgiving Day," said Cowher. "It's been a while. Today is like a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday all in one. Monday was this morning. We're in the middle of Tuesday with (this press conference). Once I leave this room it becomes Wednesday."
The league did make some concessions to the teams it earmarked for these Thursday night games: all of the games will match opponents from the same division, which should ease preparation time since the participants engage in a home-and-home series annually, and the teams that play on Thursday night all are at home on the previous Sunday to eliminate spending time on travel.
Still, it's safe to assume no coaches were in favor of this, and it's even safer to assume they weren't asked.
"We don't get consulted about schedules, we don't get consulted about rules, we don't get consulted about a lot of things," said Cowher. "We get more consoled than we get consulted."
And so it was that on Monday night, almost exactly 24 hours after their 4:15 p.m. game against the Buccaneers ended, the Steelers were back on the practice field.
"We're not going to have any 9-on-7s, we won't wear shoulder pads this whole week," said Cowher. "I'm not that foolish to do that. It is important preparation-wise to see it, rep it and go through it. I think it's important that we start thinking of Cleveland and get some normality this week."
Good luck with that.
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|12-05-2006, 07:57 PM||#2|
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Re: If Tuesday is a Thursday, this must be the NFL
I think it affects the opponents of the Browns and the Steelers the week after they play each other more than it affects those two teams.
As Cowher says, both teams have the same amount of rest time - so they are equally disadvantaged.
However, both teams then have an extra 3 days rest before their next game - and both of their week 14 opponents dont.
They've been great for a while now, three Super Bowls' worth of great. But only this season have the New England Patriots become The Show, the must-see team of stars, pretty boys and reformed bad boys. Suddenly, the Patriots are not simply great; they're compelling, fascinating, appearing to be almighty and a touch lawless.
The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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