If you’re the type of NFL fan who cringes the instant you see the Week 6 NFL schedule kicks off with the Houston Texans vs. the Washington Commanders on “Thursday Night Football,” you may be in luck. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday he wouldn’t be surprised if those games received flex scheduling down the road.
If that happens, the NFL would hypothetically be allowed to change “Thursday Night Football” matchups as long as they gave teams a few weeks notice. The league has the ability to enact flex scheduling after Week 5 of the regular season, and occasionally moves more meaningful Sunday games to “Sunday Night Football.”
There are limits to how many times the league can flex games into the “Sunday Night Football” slot. The current rules restrict the league’s flexing power to teams already playing on Sunday. The NFL cannot flex a Saturday or Thursday game into the “Sunday Night Football” slot. That wouldn’t be the case if Thursday games were subject to a flex schedule.
Flexing Thursday night games could draw ire from NFL players
Goodell’s wording seems to indicate he would like the ability to flex “Thursday Night Football” games in the future. If he tries to make that a reality, he could receive pushback from the players, or possibly the NFLPA.
NFL players have spoken out against Thursday night games in the past. It’s a much shorter turnaround for players and that’s a big deal in a sport that encourages dozens of collisions every game. Players need as much time as possible to recover from those bumps and bruises. It becomes an issue of player safety.
Flexing “Thursday Night Football” games would likely cause an even bigger uproar. Even if teams are told about the schedule change weeks in advance, taking rest days away from players in the middle of an NFL season won’t go over well.