Last week, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes used his official Twitter account to share his displeasure regarding NFL owners deciding to allow teams to play more than one “Thursday Night Football” game a year.
Mahomes’ message was simple: quote-tweeting news of the decision with a facepalm emoji. Two of the quarterback’s teammates — wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and safety Justin Reid — echoed his sentiment.
Not only are multiple Thursday games for the same team a concern from a health-and-safety standpoint, but they are also a competitive disadvantage for teams such as the Chiefs, who have built a reputation as one of the league’s greatest draws.
This week, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer shed some light on the voting details.
The result, for now, is compromise. On Wednesday, owners took a proposal to allow flex scheduling for TNF in Weeks 14 to 17, and split it into two—one that would allow for teams to play multiple TNF games in a single season, and not always in back-to-back weeks, and another for flex scheduling. Owners voted through the former, 29–3, with the Giants, Bears and Raiders voting against it. They unofficially shot down the latter, with 22 yes votes, eight no votes and abstentions from the Panthers and Broncos.
The owners’ concerns have to do with the ratings of Thursday night games, which plummeted in 2022, showing a 46% decline in viewing, per Sports Business Journal — and the thought is that the primary reason was the poor quality of matchups. Amazon is paying the league around $1 billion per year for exclusive rights.
According to Breer, the Chiefs were among 29 teams to vote “yes” on teams playing multiple “Thursday Night Football” games per season. And — according to CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr — they were also one of 22 teams to vote “yes” for flex scheduling (it is worth noting that the vote occurred before Mahomes’ tweet).
Breer included a specific moment involving Kansas City’s chairman, owner and CEO, Clark Hunt.
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt stepped in and offered another compromise: Instead of four weeks of TNF flexes in 2023, the league could do only two weeks. Others then asked whether they could get 28 days’ notice and just two flexes for Year 1. That calmed down the room, and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie suggested splitting the proposal apart and voting on the two aspects of it separately.
Since a change requires 24 of 32 “yes” votes, talks have been tabled until May, when the owners will vote again. It will be worth watching whether the vote number (22) increases or decreases based on the adverse player reaction to the prospect.
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