Troy Aikman on Thursday Night Football: ‘Is this professional football?’

Troy Aikman on Thursday Night Football: ‘Is this professional football?’

1. Earlier this season, Tom Brady was asked about parity in the NFL during one of his press conferences. The future Hall of Famer didn’t hold back on what he thought parity really meant.

“I think there’s a lot of bad football from what I watch,” Brady said. “I watch a lot of bad football, a lot of poor quality of football; that’s what I see.”

During an appearance on this week’s SI Media Podcast, ESPN’s Troy Aikman also lamented the quality of play in the NFL this season.

The conversation started with me asking the Monday Night Football analyst about the possibility that the NFL would have future AFC and NFC championship games played at neutral sites. Earlier this week, Peter King told Chris Russo on his SiriusXM radio show that he had heard there’s a possibility the NFL could possibly be testing the waters with this year’s AFC title game, which will be played at a neutral site if it involves the Bills, Chiefs or Bengals.

“I wouldn’t like that,” said Aikman, “and there’s this side of me that thinks, well, I’m more of a traditionalist, but there is the side of me that thinks, gosh, if everybody had thought like I thought we’d still be playing a 12-game schedule and things would look a lot different, but I think we have to be really, really careful as a league.

“I will say, the NFL, they’re really good at making a lot of money. They’re really good at that. And I don’t begrudge them for that. I say good for them and the marketing of the NFL. And we watch the popularity of the sport and out of the top 100 shows, 80 something of them were NFL games this year. I love all that.

“I just would like to see more emphasis on improving the product on the field. I’d like to see that there’s some interest in that as well. It seems like all these decisions are made to increase revenue, which is great, but then it’s less time on the field for players, and then it’s less time here, and the product begins to erode a little bit, and and I think we’ve got to be really, really careful about that and I’ve been saying that for a while.”

When asked to elaborate on the product eroding, Aikman said, “I think it’s the fundamentals of the sport. Football is the only sport that you can’t practice the way that you play it. All the other sports get to go practice and then go and play. In football you don’t and so we see the fundamentals of tackling aren’t what they once were.”

Aikman added, “There were games that we watched, and I won’t say what network most of them were on, and I had to ask myself, ‘Is this professional football?’ There was some bad bad football being played, and that’s not good.”

You don’t need a high IQ to figure out Aikman was referring to Amazon Prime and Thursday Night Football. Since it appeared for a while that Aikman was going to land at Amazon to call TNF before signing on with ESPN, I asked him whether he was happy that he didn’t end up at Amazon, given how poor the TNF schedule turned out.

“All I’ll say to that, Jimmy, is that I’m happy where I’m at,” said Aikman.

During the podcast, we also discussed Aikman’s first year calling Monday Night Football, his experience being in the stadium and on the air during Damar Hamlin’s medical emergency, his thoughts on this weekend’s wild-card games, why Tom Brady is still playing at a high level at 45 years old and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Google.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

2. Normally, Traina Thoughts features a postgame press conference because someone says something funny or outrageous. Today, though, we’re featuring Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer for his reaction when taking a swig of Dasani bottled water.

For the record, here’s the definitive power rankings for bottled water: 1. SmartWater; 2. Essentia; 3. Poland Spring.

3. These were the 10 most-viewed games of the 2022 NFL regular season:

• 1. Giants at Cowboys, Week 12 (Thanksgiving), Fox: 42.1 million

• 2. Bills at Lions, Week 12 (Thanksgiving), CBS: 31.9 million

• 3. Cowboys at Packers, Week 10, Fox: 29.2 million

• 4. Eagles at Cowboys, Week 16, Fox: 27.8 million

• 5. Cowboys at Vikings Week 11, CBS: 27.7 million

• 6. Bengals at Cowboys, Week 2, CBS: 27.5 million

• 7. Packers at Bucs, Week 3, Fox: 26.4 million

• 8. Packers at Dolphins, Week 16 (Christmas), Fox: 25.9 million

• 9. Patriots at Vikings, Week 12 (Thanksgiving), NBC: 25.6 million

• 10. Bills at Chiefs, Week 6, CBS: 25.5 million

NFL fans like to watch the Cowboys.

4. We have a solid New York radio war going on right now. ESPN Radio’s Michael Kay went on a tirade last week, threatening to get a producer for another show at the station fired. After getting criticism for his actions, Kay said Wednesday that he was doing a performance. This didn’t sit well with WFAN’s Gregg Giannotti, who called B.S. on Kay and tore into him on Thursday’s Boomer & Gio show. Barrett Sports Media has a full recap of the drama.

5. Such great stuff here by Ja Morant taking care of a young fan after the Grizzlies’ win last night. I don’t understand why we can’t have more of this across the board in sports.

6. Today is the anniversary of one of the most memorable moments in WWE history, in large part thanks to the brilliant commentary of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Since bottled water was a big topic today, and everything in life is a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, let’s remember the time Larry had an issue with water.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

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