PITTSBURGH - America loves the NFL.
Games are events, Super Bowl Sunday is an unofficial national holiday, and virtually everyone owns some piece of merchandise with an NFL logo.
But is the NFL threatening its own success?
That was the interesting theory advanced by Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, who is also the analyst on Fox's No. 1 NFL broadcast team.
"At one time watching football was an event," Aikman said. "Monday Night Football was a big event.
"Now you get football Sunday, you get Monday, you get Thursday and, late in the season, you get Saturday."
In the upcoming season, the NFL will add a weekly Thursday night game, to be shown on the NFL Network.
Thursday night games have been done on a partial basis for the past few seasons.
Aikman thinks the easy availability of games on TV will lead to apathy.
"At some point, the TV ratings are not going to be there," he said.
There's no question that Monday Night Football is not what it used to be. It's gone from event to afterthought.
The NFL seems to recognize that and steers the better games to NBC's Sunday night package.
A lot of the Monday night match-ups are ho-hum.
The NFL even has flex scheduling, which allows NBC to dump out of bad matches to get a more compelling game late in the season.
Thursday night football is questionable for a couple of reasons: It does risk overexposure of the product, and it's disruptive for the teams.
Instead of getting an ordinary week of rest and preparation, teams only get three days to get ready for another game.
That takes a toll on players and coaching staffs.
Thursday might be pushing things because it disrupts the routines most fans have developed.
Is it enough to affect the well-entrenched Sunday-Monday habit? Doubtful.
Fall weekends belong to the NFL.
Business as usual
New Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has already made headlines, firing a shot at predecessor Terry Francona, then taking on New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez.
Teams haven't even played an exhibition game yet.
Wait until Valentine gets warmed up.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org