Some NFL Teams Could Play Three Thursday Games Next Season

A motion to flex games into Thursday nights was tabled, but the NFL did pass a measure that could allow for a team to play three mid-week games

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the Super Bowl LVII Host Committee Handoff Press Conference at Phoenix Convention Center on February 13, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Goodell is a proponent of flexing games into Thursday night
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants to flex better games into Thursday nights
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

For a league that hypocritically says they care about player safety (new target: punt returns!), the NFL sure wants to screw teams over when it comes to Thursday night games, which offer three fewer days of rest for players…which might be one of many reasons the mid-week games are nearly unwatchable. But the NFL is seriously considering flexing better matchups into Thursday nights, as the topic was broached recently at the league’s annual meeting.

Thankfully, the measure was tabled this week, but that only means the idea can be approached again at the spring league meetings in May. Per ESPN, the owners did pass a measure to allow teams to play a maximum of two short-week games. This means, amazingly, that some teams could play two Thursday night games, others could play zero, and back-to-back Thursday night games (e.g. a Thanksgiving game followed by a Thursday night game the next week) would only count as one short-week game. “So some teams could wind up playing three Thursday games,” as the sports site notes.

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Not all the owners were on board; New York Giants owner John Mara apparently called the idea “abusive” and also noted that the measure “should have been vetted with the health and safety committee, it should have been vetted with the competition committee, and it was not. They just tried to push it through.”

For the tabled flex proposal, the NFL would announce the change 15 days before a scheduled Thursday kickoff. Besides less preparation time for teams (or time to heal from a Sunday game), it’s still a hassle for fans who may not want to attend a game on a weekday evening.

However, there’s a good chance it’ll eventually pass, as the NFL commissioner is a champion of the TNF flex option. “We can all agree this [idea] seems insane,” NBC sportswriter Peter King wrote earlier this week. “But I’m told this is something Roger Goodell really wants to have in his toolbox, to prevent awful games for a partner already struggling with audience share, Amazon.” A compromise of “one game, max” getting a Thursday night flex might eventually pass, King suggests.

We’re all for better matchups. But scheduling teams for up to three short-week games and only allowing a two-week window for flexing games from a Sunday to Thursday seems like an injustice to players and fans.

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