EAGAN, Minn. — Thursday nights in the NFL have long been the most drastic feature of its made-for-TV schedule, a prime-time slot that raised concerns about player safety and produced plenty of competitive duds before it moved to a streaming-only platform.
Now the league will have the power, albeit limited, to change the matchups.
NFL owners approved Monday a flexible scheduling policy for Thursday night games on Amazon Prime Video, for Weeks 13-17 only and with at least 28 days' notice given to the affected teams. The league could push a Thursday night matchup in that range to Sunday afternoon if there's a more desirable game, a mechanism currently in place for Sunday night and Monday night games.
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No team would be required to play more than twice on Thursday night in a season. The rule is just for 2023, for now. Any game during Weeks 13-17 could be selected for the move to Thursday night, but the league said the bar for such a shuffle would be high.
"We're incredibly judicious and incredibly sensitive to flexing a game and all the dynamics that go into that," said Hans Schroeder, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NFL Media. "We're also trying to balance how we get the best games in the best windows for our fans."
In addition to the prime-time allowances for flexing games, the NFL also now puts the entire Week 18 schedule up for grabs until the week of so it can show two games with playoff implications on Saturday.
New York Giants owner John Mara, a critic of the proposal for its negative impact on fans, said after the vote that he was disappointed but not surprised.