My latest Chicago Tribune column, which ran yesterday, is on Jim Nantz discussing the issues of NFL games on Thursdays.
You also can access the column via @Sherman_Report.
From the column:
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.
Nantz and Phil Simms will be on the call for the Bears’ back-to-back Thursday encounters: Thanksgiving Day against the Lions on CBS and Dec. 5 against the Cowboys in Soldier Field on NFL Network.
Thanks to his Thursday-Sunday assignments, Nantz is in a stretch during which he will be working five games in 15 days. And the 55-year-old play-by-play voice is doing it with the challenge of traveling to five cities with his wife, Courtney, and their 8-month-old girl, Finley.
Nantz’s double-duty shifts on most weeks (he has a handful of Sundays off) are an unprecedented run for a NFL announcer. To use a variation of his trademark Masters line, it has been a year unlike any other for Nantz.
“That’s right,” Nantz said with a laugh. “But I feel very fresh. Nobody is going throw a pity party for me. I’m loving every minute of it.”
The same probably can’t be said of NFL players regarding these short-week games. The quick turnaround gives them little chance to recover from the previous Sunday’s game. As a result, critics contend there is a drop-off in speed and execution for the Thursday matchups.
It didn’t help matters when the Thursday night games were plagued by three straight routs early this year. Even Nantz wondered if some of the critical assessments were justified.
“I began to think whether teams had the extra gear to fight their way back into a game,” Nantz said. “Were they mentality and physically so low in energy that they couldn’t tap a reservoir to bounce back?”
Nantz now feels differently after watching NBC endure nine straight games where the margin was 18 points and higher on Sunday nights.
“(The blowouts weren’t) exclusive to Thursday night,” Nantz said.