The Steelers have had an odd schedule over the back half of their season. After their game against the Cardinals, they did play on a Sunday until they went to Seattle. But now, they will be back on Saturday, playing against the Ravens, their third time doing so this season. Before their first Saturday clash against the Colts, they played Thursday against the Patriots.
On Cam Heyward’s Not Just Football Podcast, Heyward dove into this odd scheduling, and to say the least, he was not too happy about the NFL’s scheduling of Steelers games in the back half of the season.
“Okay, one thing I want to bring up, though, that’s kind of ticked me off in December, we’ve played three Saturday games, and we’re going to have played three Saturday games and a Thursday game,” Heyward said. We talk so much about player safety and player health, right? We’ve literally decreased our chance to recover game to game for an entire month. That just is kind of shocking when you think about it. We’re trying to make strides in protecting the body, we’re trying to make strides in keeping quarterbacks upright, but like damn, like you’re taking away a recovery day that we’ve had almost every week throughout September, October, November, and then we get to December because we’re trying to sell tickets and we’re trying to push the streaming to another level. You know you’re screwing us in the process.”
This isn’t the first time that the Steelers have criticized the NFL’s schedule. Patrick Peterson spoke out before the season in May about playing two Thursday Night Football games. That did not go over well with him or many of the veterans either, and this wonky scheduling seems to be something that these veterans do not understand, given the emphasis on player health that the NFL preaches.
“They want to find ways to get ball on TV, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to think about our bodies,” Peterson said. “Especially with me being in Year 13, my body doesn’t recovery like it used to. … To have two Thursday Night Football games, I think, is a bit bizarre.”
Regardless, the Steelers have to do what the NFL says, and even if they make the playoffs, there is a good chance they won’t play on Sunday. With all of the weird scheduling they have received, their practice weeks have been thrown for a loop consistently, and the recovery process has changed each week. Regardless, it’s part of the process, and players do not get a say over it as the league moves it around as they see fit.