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NFL Owners Approve Thursday Night Football Flex Scheduling; Steelers’ Rooney Objects



Steelers president Art Rooney II

The NFL owners passed a measure to allow for flexible scheduling of Thursday Night Football games at league’s spring meetings in Minnesota on Monday, despite the opposite of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Art Rooney II and several other prominent owners.

The measure passed with a 24-8 vote, according to a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN. The Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Giants and New York Jets all voted against the proposal. The same eight owners held out during the previous league meetings in March, but were unable to prevent the motion from passing.

“I’m adamantly opposed to it,” Giants owner John Mara said to “Flexible scheduling … is really inconsiderate to our season-ticket holders who fill our stadiums every week. People have gotten used to going from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night, but that doesn’t mean they like it. This year, we can be flexed to Monday night, which I think is very inconsiderate to our ticket holders.

“But to flex a game to Thursday night to me is abusive, and I’m adamantly opposed to it. Fortunately, it didn’t get enough votes, but it will probably be revisited in May.”

The proposal was modified from its original form. Flexible scheduling for Thursday Night Football will only take place in Weeks 13-17, with each team able to be flexed just twice per season, and the league being required to give 28 days’ notice before moving a game.

Rooney was insistent on a longer timeframe of notice being part of the proceedings. The original proposal had a 15-day timeframe for moving a game.

“The biggest problem I had with the flex was that the proposal was that you only had 15 days’ notice,” Rooney said. “That’s just too short of a turnaround time for a flex from a Sunday to Thursday, as far as I’m concerned.”

“People make plans to go to these games weeks and months in advance,” Mara said. “Fifteen days ahead of time, to say, ‘Sorry folks, that game you were planning on taking your kids to Sunday at 1 o’clock, it’s now going to be Thursday night.’ I mean, what are we thinking about?”

The change came in response to a lack of quality broadcasts for the league’s new Thursday night partner, Amazon Prime. The bad football played on Thursday nights became such a talking point that host Al Michaels was making fun of the product on the broadcast. Mara suggested the league do a better job with the schedule from the beginning.

“I understand the ratings towards the end of the year on Amazon were down a little bit,” he said. “We probably had some bad matchups. Let’s pick better matchups.”

Teams are still bound the by upper limits of playing seven prime-time games and two Thursday Night Football games in a season. Because the Steelers already are scheduled to play on Thursday Night Football twice this season, they cannot be flexed into a matchup, but they could be flexed out of one. Their Week 14 game is currently scheduled at Acrisure Stadium for Thursday, Dec. 7 against the New England Patriots. That game could be flexed out of the prime-time slot and played on Sunday, instead, though the inclusion of the two large eastern fanbases will probably prevent that from happening.

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