Sports

NFL to hold Christmas Day games despite holiday falling on a Wednesday

The league said two Christmas Day games in 2024 will feature teams that play the previous Saturday, giving players ample time to recover.

Spectators at an NFL game dressed in Christmas-themed costumes.
Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP
SMS

The NFL is bringing back Christmas Day games this upcoming season despite the holiday falling on a Wednesday. 

The league announced Tuesday at its annual meeting that it will hold two rare midweek regular season games on December 25, 2024. Matchups have yet to be determined, but NFL.com reports that both games will feature teams that played the previous Saturday in order to allow players and coaches ample time to recover and prepare.

"When we saw the viewership from this past year, really our fans spoke," said Hans Schroeder, NFL executive vice president of media distribution, according NFL.com.

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Christmas Day has traditionally been a holiday associated with NBA basketball, but the NFL has hijacked it in recent years by drawing massive television ratings. Last year's NFL triple-header on Christmas Day generated an average of more than 27 million viewers per game, according to Sports Media Watch, far outpacing the NBA average of just 2.85 million viewers over a five-game slate. 

The NFL has played 30 games on Christmas Day dating back to 1971, and this will be the fifth straight season the league plays on the holiday. However, it will be the first time Christmas Day games will fall on a Wednesday.

The NFL schedule typically holds Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games, with some occasional Saturday contests later in the season. So it will be a quick turnaround this year for teams playing the Saturday before Christmas — giving players just three days to recover before they're back on the gridiron.

Amid concerns about the health of players, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared confident that the players would be ready for the Christmas Day games, adding Wednesday football won't be a new league tradition. 

"It will be when Christmas falls on a Wednesday," he said, according to NFL.com. "But the time period between games has been done before. We have not seen any elevation of injuries."