In a recent announcement, the NFL disclosed that its owners have voted in favor of implementing flex scheduling for Thursday Night Football during the upcoming 2023 season. The decision, which came on Monday, marks a significant change to the scheduling format for prime-time Thursday games.
According to a resolution obtained by Albert Breer of the MMQB, flex scheduling for Thursday night games will only be applicable from Weeks 13 to 17 of the season. The league has outlined that clubs will receive at least a 28-day notice if they are to be flexed into a different matchup.
Under the new rule, teams will be allowed a maximum of two flexes per season, with a restriction on playing more than two Thursday Night Football games. This limitation aims to strike a balance between competitive flexibility and maintaining a reasonable workload for teams involved.
To pass the proposal, a minimum of 24 “yes” votes was required, and according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, exactly that number was achieved. However, notable contingents representing the New York Giants, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Las Vegas Raiders, Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, and Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly opposed the change.
The topic of flex scheduling for Thursday Night Football was initially discussed by NFL owners during league meetings in March. However, the talks were tabled until May due to an inability to reach a consensus. The initial discussions sparked criticism, primarily surrounding concerns over player injuries and potential disruptions to fans’ travel plans.
Throughout the offseason, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell emphasized the league’s commitment to balancing the experiences of fans attending games and those watching from home. He also highlighted that injury rates during Thursday games are not significantly higher than those in other matchups.
Hans Schroeder, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of NFL Media, revealed to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert that there will be a more stringent evaluation process to determine which games are eligible for Thursday Night Football flex scheduling. This “higher bar” will ensure that the most compelling and competitive matchups are chosen for the primetime slot.
John Mara, co-owner of the New York Giants, expressed his disappointment but lack of surprise following the results of the vote, as reported by NFL Network’s Judy Battista. Mara has been an outspoken opponent of flex scheduling for Thursday Night Football, previously describing the proposition as “abusive” towards season-ticket holders.
It is worth noting that Amazon Prime Video has been the exclusive broadcaster of Thursday Night Football since 2022, further solidifying the league’s commitment to digital streaming platforms and expanding its reach to a broader audience.