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Thursday night flex possibility sparked “spirited” debate among owners

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Roger Goodell believes flexing TNF isn’t a health and safety concern, but Mike Florio and Peter King shed light on why they feel it’s wrong for the players, the fans and the game as a whole.

The Commissioner needs only two more “yes” votes to deliver Thursday night flexing. He may need to flex every muscle he has to get there.

With 22 in favor of it (some of whom, as Peter King said on Friday’s PFT Live, are going along with it because they can tell the Commissioner really wants it), eight are opposed and two abstained.

The teams who opted to take no position were the Panthers and Broncos. Of the eight who voted no, four were (per King) the Giants, Jets, Bears, and Packers.

The discussion reportedly got interesting last week. Via Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, the debate among owners was “spirited.” Panthers owner David Tepper, via Fischer, asked league executives, “Is this in direct response to something Amazon said?”

Tepper didn’t get a direct answer.

Of course Amazon wants it. More broadly, the league wants it because streaming is the future. The league knows viewer habits must change, in order to get viewers who watch on TV to watch via streaming services.

The numbers for Amazon’s first foray, an average audience of 9.6 million, weren’t good enough. The league needs to do something to beef things up, to elevate the floor. To push the number back toward the 20 million or so who watched Thursday night games on Fox.

But flexing, in our view, isn’t the answer. As Giants co-owner John Mara said, it’s “abusive” to the paying customer. It’s also abusive to the players, even though the league believes that it can hang its hat on the cherry-picked notion that the raw number of injuries are no different between normal-rest games and short-week games.

It will make for an interesting several weeks. As Goodell and company try to get two of the 10 holdouts to “yes,” Mara and others could be trying to get some of the “yes” votes to change their minds.

It could stay “spirited.” It could get ugly. Feelings could be hurt. Egos could be bruised. Hopefully, in the end, the right thing for fans and players and the game will be done.

And maybe that’s what will happen. Really, with Mara calling the plan “abusive,” how can they proceed with it?