NFL tables 'Thursday Night Football' flex scheduling, but ups number of times teams can play maligned timeslot
A big change is coming to the NFL's widely maligned "Thursday Night Football," with an even bigger one potentially on the way.
NFL team owners voted to approve a change that will allow teams to play two TNF games on short rest in one season, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Teams previously had to play only one such game in a season.
The measure was one of many rules changes voted through by the franchise owners Tuesday.
Club owners also reportedly tabled a proposal that would have introduced flex scheduling for the timeslot. Previous reports indicated that such a system would allow Sunday afternoon games in Weeks 14-17 to shift to Thursdays with 15 days notice.
Given how much players loathe the burden of playing games on four days rest and how much fans (and announcer Al Michaels) have mocked and criticized the Thursday games, sold to Amazon last offseason for a cool $1 billion per year, the proposals to increase the number of times an elite team can play that day was bound to be controversial.
Take one such player who now seems likely to play an extra Thursday game many times for the rest of his career:
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) March 28, 2023
The flex scheduling seems to be controversial even among team owners, as indicated by the fact that the proposal wasn't pushed through Tuesday.
On the side against, you have the influential New York Giants owner John Mara, who called the idea "abusive" for fans who attend games:
"People have gotten used to going from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night, that doesn't mean that they like it. This year, we could be flexed to Monday night, which I think is really inconsiderate to our ticket-holders. To flex a game back to Thursday night, to me, is just abusive. I am adamantly opposed to it. Fortunately, it didn't get enough votes today, but it will probably be revisited in May."
On the other hand, you have the even more influential Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who praised the idea's media potential to Yahoo Sports' Jori Epstein:
Jerry Jones is excited about chance for teams to play on TNF twice in same season. Believes it’s good for league and fans. Cowboys playing 2 Thursdays with Thanksgiving contributed to his confidence. But media potential even more.
Jerry voted in favor of the proposal.
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) March 29, 2023
As Mara indicated, this matter isn't settled, but Jones and his allies now have only two months to find voters willing to change sides.