NFL teams will be allowed to appear in two Thursday games on short weeks based on a rule change implemented Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.
The league tabled a vote on permitting flex scheduling for Thursday night games, a tweak that, if ultimately approved, could prevent matchups of losing teams in a prime-time showcase.
The change that was implemented could end up seeing some teams play on Thursday three times. Should a team be scheduled on consecutive Thursdays, only the first of those two games would be considered a short week.
In prior years, every team was assigned at least one Thursday game per season, but that will no longer be a requirement moving forward.
NFL executive vice president and chief media and business officer Brian Rolapp said, “We’re interested in making sure that we get exposure for all of our clubs. We also believe that these national windows are for clubs that are playing well. We want to put the best teams in the best windows.”
As for flex scheduling for Thursday games, New York Giants owner John Mara, who opposes the idea, fears it might pass at the next league meetings in May, according to ESPN.
“At some point, can we please give some consideration to the people who are coming to our games?” Mara said, according to ESPN. “People make plans to go to these games weeks and months in advance. And 15 days ahead of time to say, ‘Sorry, folks, that game you were planning on taking your kids to Sunday at 1, now it’s on Thursday night?’ What are we thinking about?”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded to Mara’s remarks by saying, “There isn’t anybody in any of our organization that doesn’t put our fans first. Providing the best matchups for our fans is what we do. That’s part of what our schedule has always focused on. Flex has been part of that. We are very judicious with it and careful with it. We look at all the impacts of that before a decision is made.”