NFL Owners Vote To Add Flexible Scheduling To Thursday Night Games But Set A High Bar For Doing It

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One of the most contentious measures NFL owners have weighed since awarding Thursday Night Football to Amazon Prime passed Monday.

There will be flexible scheduling of late-season Thursday Night games after all.

Owners passed the measure by a vote of 24-8 Monday afternoon at the NFL meetings in Minneapolis. This after the measure was tabled at the league meetings in Arizona in March. At that meeting owners such as John Mara of the New York Giants and Mark Davis of the Las Vegas Raiders voted against it.

The flex schedule will have to meet a high bar to go into effect but it’s purpose is clear: To avoid late-season games on Prime that simply do not draw big audiences because they feature unattractive matchups.

President, CEO and co-owner of the New York Giants John Mara looks on during warm ups before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium on September 9, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Giants’ John Mara Vehemently Opposed Flex

In that regard, the owners seemingly decided fans viewing the game at home were more important than those traveling to the games. But in truth it’s about giving Prime a schedule worthy of the $1 billion it pays annually for the Thursday night package.

Until now, Thursday night games was the only primetime package that did not include flexible scheduling. That’s because it meant switching the game to another day rather than changing the game’s start time.

Clubs now may be required to switch Sunday afternoon regular season games, in Weeks 13-17, to approximately 8:15 p.m. ET on Thursday (and vice-versa) after receiving 28 days of notice from the league office.

The league’s late season “TBD” scheduling mechanism is being expanded to allow the league to designate games originally identified as “TBD” games to be played on Thursday Night. That is in addition to Saturday, Sunday or Monday in place of the originally scheduled Thursday night game, which shall be played on Sunday.

Richard Sherman talks while doing Thursday Night Football Kickoff before the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium on November 10, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Strict Rules For Making TNF Flexible

Any club appearance on Thursday Night Football as a result of flexing or “TBD” scheduling will count toward the existing seven-appearance prime time limit.

No club will be required by virtue of flexible scheduling to switch from Sunday to Thursday night more than once in 2023. No club will play more than two Thursday night games.

The NFL will apply flexible scheduling no more than two two times in any season.

Monday’s resolution will be in effect for the 2023 season only. If, however, flexible scheduling isn’t applied for Thursday Night Football at all during the season it will remain in effect 2024.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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