Most horizons, by definition, take time to arrive. Others come more quickly than anyone would have expected.
When it comes to potentially flexing Thursday games to Sunday, and vice-versa, Commissioner Roger Goodell said less than two months ago, “Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon.”
Currently, it’s not on the league’s horizon. It’s staring the league right in the face.
Ben Fischer and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal report that owners will vote on a Thursday night plan that would permit flexible scheduling in Week 14 through Week 17.
In 2006, the NFL adopted flexible schedule for late-season Sunday nights. This season, late-season Monday night flexing is possible for the first time.
If at least 24 owners vote for the change, games will be eligible for shifting from Thursday nights with 15 days’ notice, and it will (if/when it’s used) result in teams potentially having two Sunday-Thursday turnarounds in the same season. Currently, the NFL limits teams to one four-day gap between games per year.
Apart from reduced rest for players and increased logistical demands for teams, the potential shifting of late-season games will put fans in a potential pickle, disrupting travels plans for a Thursday night game and pushing it to Sunday afternoon.
As the NFL obsesses with putting the best possible games in standalone windows, those other issues will take a backseat. The goal is maximum eyeballs and, in turn, maximum dollars. Flexible schedule on Thursday nights will help the league get there.