EAGAN, Minn. — The NFL finally forced Thursday night flex scheduling into its broadcast window. Let’s hope the league never has to use it.
On Monday, 24 owners voted in favor of a scheduling mechanism by which the league will be able to flex into (or out of) “Thursday Night Football” games. The games are limited only to Weeks 13-17, the decision must be made no later than 28 days in advance of the game, there’s a maximum of two Thursday night games that can be flexed out of the five options and, of course, the game has to warrant being flexed out of.
It’s a heavy set of conditions that set a high bar for this ever coming to fruition. And the league makes the tabcit admission that it could be a bad idea by noting this is a “one-season trial of modified scheduling policies for flexible scheduling in connection with the Thursday Night Football package.”
The league badly wanted this to pass during the annual meetings in March in Arizona. Then, the league had to give teams 15 days’ notice instead of 28. I’m told the room was fairly evenly split on the resolution before Giants co-owner John Mara stood up and called the idea “abusive.”
He is, of course, correct. I’ve yet to speak to one NFL player who will publicly or privately say they like playing football on a Thursday night. The NFLPA certainly isn’t in favor of this.
But beyond that, the NFL encouraged fans to buy tickets as soon as its heavily produced schedule release took place a few weeks ago. Fans make their plans well in advance, and a primetime game late in the season is one a fan of the home or away side will want to lock in.
Travel costs money. Airfare is expensive. The cost of a hotel room spikes when the city is hosting an NFL game. To tell fans of either of the teams playing in the five contests who could be impacted that their plans may be worth nothing in a few months seems to go against the Football Is Family ideal the…