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Players have long said Thursday games have more injuries, in 2017 they were right


during the second half of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 9, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 22-16.

Christian Petersen

For years, players have been saying Thursday games are more dangerous, while the NFL has been saying the injury data doesn’t support the players’ assertion. Now the NFL is acknowledging that in 2017, players really did suffer more injuries per game on Thursdays than on other days of the week.

But the NFL says that difference was slight, not statistically significant and not indicative of a trend that would justify canceling Thursday Night Football.

A study published by the league found that there were 6.9 injuries per game on Thursdays in 2017, while there were 6.3 injuries per game on other days of the week. That’s a reversal from past years, when the league said there were actually fewer injuries in Thursday games.

Dr. Christina Mack, an epidemiologist who works with the league on injury data, said an uptick in injuries on Thursdays in 2017 should not be viewed as more meaningful than the years of research the NFL has that more players are injured on other days of the week.

“This season, for the first time, we saw a one-year shift, where injury rates on Thursdays were slightly higher than games played on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday,” Mack said. “The four-year aggregate rates are the strongest metrics due to the small number of games played on Thursdays and in general when we look at these rates, so the one-year sample size of the Thursday data is more variable. The difference was not statistically significant. That said, again coming up to the Combine, we are going to continue looking at and analyzing these data to understand what the impact of intervals between games and rest is with focus on Thursday night in a broader context.”

Players, however, have been vocal that they don’t like Thursday games. They will surely see this as a data point in their favor.