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Roger Goodell defends possibility of Thursday night flex scheduling

Mike Florio and Peter King examine the impact that flexing TNF games during Week 14 through Week 17 would have on the fans, as well as how this could negatively affect the best teams.

The NFL will take up discussion of flex scheduling for Thursday Night Football again in May after not having the votes to approve the league’s proposed measure Tuesday.

The league wants the leeway to move late-season games from Sunday to Thursday, with a 15-day advance notice, to assure better matchups for Amazon.

Giants co-owner John Mara sounded off after the meeting ended, calling the proposal “really inconsiderate to our season-ticket holders” and “abusive.”

“Listen, there isn’t anybody in that room, any of our organizations who don’t put our fans first. That’s really important,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in response. “Obviously, providing the best matchups for our fans is part of what we do. That’s part of what I think our scheduling has always focused on and flex has been a part of that. We are very judicious with it and we’re very careful with it, and we look at all of the impacts of it. So, before those decisions are made, I think we average in the years we’ve been doing it about a flex and a half a year. It can vary in any particular year. So, it’s a very important thing for us to balance with the what I would call season-ticket holders and the in-stadium markets, but we have millions of fans who also watch on television, so reaching them is a balance that you always strike and making sure we do it right.”

In 2006, the NFL adopted flexible schedule for late-season Sunday nights. This season, late-season Monday night flexing is possible for the first time.

On Tuesday, owners did approve allowing teams to play on two short weeks during the season. That means teams can play two Thursday night games on short rest during the 2023 season.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes reacted unfavorably to the decision on social media.

“I don’t think we are putting Amazon over our players,” Goodell said in response. “We’ve always been doing at data with respect to injuries and the impact on players. That drove our decisions throughout the first 12 or so years of Thursday Night Football and how it’s evolved. I think the data is very clear: It doesn’t show a higher injury rate. But we recognize shorter weeks. We went through this with COVID, too. We had to have a lot of flexibility. Those are obviously different circumstances, but we work very closely on that.

“I hear from a lot of players directly, too. They love the 10 days afterward. In fact, they call it a mini-bye, so there are benefits on that. You have different views. We want to consider all of them. Players have their views. Coaches have their views. We have to try to balance all of that.”