Giants’ John Mara calls possible Thursday night flexing ‘abusive’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The NFL wants better matchups on Amazon’s Thursday Night Football, and one prominent owner is vehemently against the league’s proposed method for getting them.
Speaking at the annual league meeting in Phoenix on Tuesday, New York Giants co-owner John Mara called the possibility of flexing Sunday games to Thursday nights “abusive.”
“Flexible scheduling, as it is, is really inconsiderate to our season ticket holders and to people who fill our stadiums every week,” Mara said. “People have gotten used to going from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night. That doesn’t mean that they like it.
“This year we can be flexed into Monday night, which I think is really inconsiderate to our ticket holders. But to flex a game back to Thursday night to me is abusive, and I am adamantly opposed to it.”
The NFL announced more than a dozen approved playing rules, bylaws and resolutions for 2023 on Tuesday. The league made a proposal seeking the ability to move late-season games from a Sunday to a Thursday with 15 days notice, but it did not pass in what Mara called a “close” vote. Instead of being fully rejected, discussions on the topic have been tabled to May.
“I understand that the ratings towards the end of the year on Amazon were down a little bit, but we probably had some bad matchups,” he said. “So let’s pick better matchups.”
NFL flex scheduling began in 2006 as a means for getting more marquee matchups on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Games could be moved from Sunday afternoon to Sunday primetime, and vice-versa, with 12 days notice. They could also be moved from 1 p.m. to either 4 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. ET, and vice-versa, on Sundays for CBS and FOX.
As of 2022, the league was allowed to use flex scheduling two times between Weeks 5-10 and anytime between Weeks 11-17.
The upcoming NFL season will be the first time the league can flex games in and out of ESPN’s Monday Night Football. As Mara alluded to, it could create issues for fans who plan to attend a game on a specific date.
There are even more issues for fans with Thursday night flexing, but the greater concern falls on players. A Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround gives players just three days off between games, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell dismissed the premise that the short break leads to more on-field injuries and said some players appreciate the “mini-bye” that follows a Thursday matchup.
“I don’t think we are putting Amazon over players’ interests,” Goodell said. “We’ve always been looking at the data with respect to injuries and the impact on players … and I think we have data that’s very clear it doesn’t show a higher injury rate.”
ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio doesn’t believe the league’s data tells the full story, though.
“It’s not enough to just look at how many injuries happen in the game,” Mike Florio said Wednesday on “PFT Live.” “What about the players who could have played on [Sunday] who aren’t able to play now on Thursday night? … They’re not in this analysis of injury rate. What do we know about the overall wear and tear? How much does it add when you’re playing 17 games?”
While Thursday night flex talks have been tabled until May, the league has already installed one change to mid-week games. Teams can now have two short-week games from a Sunday to a Thursday during the season, leaving behind the limit of one per team from past seasons. That news was immediately met with a reaction from the reigning NFL MVP.
The NFL is set to release its 2023 schedule in early May, but there could be plenty of changes to it once the season gets underway.
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