NFL says potential Thursday night flex is “not a concern from a health and safety perspective”

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns
Getty Images

On Thursday night, Sports Business Journal reported that the owners will vote next week on a proposal to apply flexible scheduling to Thursday Night Football. On Friday morning, the NFL confirmed the proposal during a conference call previewing the upcoming annual meetings.

The NFL did not answer the question of whether the NFL Players Association has approved what arguably would be a change to the overall working conditions.

“I guess we’ll have further conversation around that when we get to Thursday night next week,” NFL V.P. of communications, public affairs, and policy Jeff Miller said during the conference call. “I know that around Thursday night that was circulated as one of the potential voting proposals for the owners this week. I guess I’ll leave it to others with more subject-matter expertise to talk about the engagement with the union on that point.”

We’ve asked the NFLPA the same question. The union has not yet provided a substantive response.

Miller then pivoted to the most obvious concern the union might have — is it consistent with player health and safety to have teams that likely have already played one short-week game in a given season to play another?

“The flex on Thursday,” Miller said, “from a health and safety perspective . . . over the course of the last several years now, we have not seen a differential injury rate on Thursday night games or, said more precisely, on games played on short rest compared to games played on longer rest. So playing those games on Thursday is not a concern from a health and safety perspective.”

It seems to be a little too narrow to focus on injury rates in games played with normal rest and games played with limited rest. One concern relates more to the overall wear and tear.

Can a player who is already banged up get ready to go on a short week? Is a player who finds a way to play on Thursday after emerging from Sunday’s game taking an unacceptable risk? Does playing more than one short-week game in a 17-game regular season increase the risk of injury at some point in the year, regardless of whether it happens in a short-week or normal-week game?

Whether the union objects to Thursday night flexing remains to be seen. The two sides ultimately may differ on whether the adoption of flexible scheduling for Thursday nights constitutes a sufficient change in working conditions to prevent the NFL from doing it without union consultation and consent.

Nearly a decade ago, when the NFL first floated the possibility of expanding the playoff field from 12 teams to 14, the union said, “No so fast” — and it took years for the plan to be implemented, because it absolutely required union approval.

If, in this case, the union is willing and able to flex its bargaining muscle, there may be no Thursday night flexing, even if all 32 owners vote for it next week.

46 responses to “NFL says potential Thursday night flex is “not a concern from a health and safety perspective”

  1. Craziness. Thursday night football is dangerous. The players are barely ready to play again on a Sunday. The quality of the game is poor because of the lack of preparation time and recovery time. Please, put an end to the insanity.

  2. The games will be flexed…fans don’t want stinkers on Thursday night…bury that game on Sunday at 1 when people have a choice to watch another game.

    It sucks knowing on Monday the TNF is gonna be a stinker…

  3. Well duh, the NFL is only concerned about player health and safety if there’s a potential lawsuit looming.

  4. Thursday night games are nothing but a moneygrab with no regard to player safety. Players need that extra time to heal. Roger should be ashamed for allowing this.

  5. As with every decision the NFL makes, money trumps all other factors, including health and safety.

  6. That’s because from a Health and Safety prospective there should be NO Thursday night games. All about the benjamins greedy farts

  7. What about concussion protocols and players with questionable injury designation… moving a game from Sunday to Thursday may not allow enough time for a QB, for example, to get through concussion protocols or get over an ankle sprain that they might have by Sunday. So, IMO, teams would both need to agree to a flex to avoid giving a team an advantage BECAUSE of the flex.

    It’s not just about injuries that happen during that game, but the NFL is seemingly making that their key metric for this possible change.

  8. Solution: Add another bye to the season. In addition to the regular bye week, each team playing on TNF would have the prior Sunday off.

  9. You may not see more injuries on the actual Thursday night game but I would love to see whether the injury rate increases over the next 3 weeks after the game. I bet it does bc the body did not have time to heal in the required way.

  10. this can not pass – imagine for a second that you’re a team with several star players who are banged up, and being told that instead of 7 days to recover, you will now have 4. This is another example in a long list of examples where the league is demonstrating that profit will always win over fairness and player safety.

  11. Let me know when Thursday night games are flexed off of Amazon back onto a channel that I already pay for.

  12. rho2020 says:
    March 24, 2023 at 11:51 am
    Craziness. Thursday night football is dangerous. The players are barely ready to play again on a Sunday. The quality of the game is poor because of the lack of preparation time and recovery time. Please, put an end to the insanity.

    The players don’t play the immediate Sunday following Thursday night football…one could say though that they are not ready physically to play on Thursday night after playing 4 days earlier on a Sunday.

  13. What about the people that plan to fly in and see the game? Changing hotels and flights will be expensive, along with getting the time off from work.

  14. And you failed to also mention that players all LOVE the 10-day mini-bye vacation they get, or the additional $500m the NFLPA gets from their share of the TNF revenue…

  15. People don’t want to watch Amazon streaming. They don’t want to pay and the quality sucks. Put it back on regular TV or never get the ratings you want. Last year was a disaster for Amazon. If I was MLB I would be showcasing Thursday night all through the World Series, Top notch college football games. In November get NHL, NBA going. Thursday Night Football on Amazon will never take off.

  16. As long as two teams can line up enough warm bodies to generate revenue for the NFL, health and safety will never truly be a concern for the league office.

  17. There is literally not a single reason why the players would go for this. Not a single reason why the players SHOULD go for this. The owners got their 17 games. Enough already.

  18. Having good teams play doesn’t change the fact that the football is almost always bad.

  19. NFL V.P. of communications, public affairs, and policy Jeff Miller has no concerns about his or Roger Godell’s health or safety in flexing another game. Miller is fairly certain both their health will improve with the flex.
    Players, not so much.

  20. Health and safety are important. So are the away fans who wish to attend the games and have planned since May by booking a hotel and or flights for TNF. I guess not so important to the money makers.

  21. Says the NFL execs who have never experienced the physical pain and stress of playing a football game on 3 days rest. Those guys get hernias from lifting their wallets off the dresser in the morning.

  22. Anyone that’s played the sport at the high school level or higher understands that Thursday night games aren’t a good idea. Talk to any player in the league and usually Thursday is the day where they’re able to finally start walking straight after healing up from Sunday.

    There’s zero need for Thursday night games. Although I’m sure if the NFL could get eyeballs, they’d have a game on every night of the week. There’s plenty of football to go around on Sunday and Monday night. Restricting games to those two days keeps football special and not over-saturated.

    If there’s any competence within the NFLPA (and that’s highly debatable), they’ll push back on Thursday flexed games and Thursday games in general. But I’m not holding my breath.

  23. Just flex all Thursday games to sunday. TNF has been a failure from the beginning.

  24. To quote Pink Floyd
    “Forward he cried, from the rear, as the front ranked died
    The general sat, and the lines on the Mao moved from side to side”

  25. For me personally as a fan it’s great to have a game to watch on Thursday night (even though they usually suck, hello fantasy football) but I’ve never heard a player that I can recall saying they are good playing on Thursday night games.

    As a normal dude if I can barely recover enough to lift weights on Monday to a Friday and I’m just lifting stuff…they got huge dudes throwing them around like a rag doll and coming at them like a missile and they are expected to be back in 4 days to do it all over again. The reality is once the toothpaste is out it’s probably not going back…and if this gets passed its the same thing.

    We might see a new way to tank for teams that might possibly be in line to be flexed to a Thursday night and say hell no!

  26. The NFL is putting the money they get from streaming ahead player safety and the fans who actually bought tickets to the games. Neither can adjust to a game flexed very easily.

  27. The owners vote on stuff like this….yet everyone blames Roger.It’s really mind boggling that people blame the wrong person

  28. Even if the stats are there from an injury perspective, I would love to see the statistics on winning percentage in Thursday games for home teams versus road teams. Anecdotally (because I haven’t checked), I’d say it’s highly slanted in favor of the home team due to not having to travel in an already shortened week. It seems, just from memory, that the home team – regardless of relative ability – always has an advantage. If there is going to be a chance for teams to get “flexed” into Thursday, I would say there should be a rule that no team should have to play 2 Thursday ROAD games in the same season.

  29. I honestly think we can do away with Thursday night football. Half the time I forget it’s even playing.

  30. OK Roj. You would rupture your achilles on a 10-yard button hook. Nice of you to tell the limping and concussed warriors it’s all in their head. Carry on soldiers!

  31. I would think safety would be a concern. I also think, with the NFL so open to gambling these days, it is another variable that could be thrown in to put a team at a disadvantage.

  32. So Crates says:
    March 24, 2023 at 12:12 pm

    What about concussion protocols and players with questionable injury designation…

    No problem, all they have to do is hire the Dolphins “independent” neurologist and everyone is miraculously healed in time for the kickoff!

  33. I wish that NFL would realize that Thursday football sucks. Good games do happen, just not that often. I think if the games could happen on Friday or Saturday that the games would be better but I understand why they’re not.

  34. So when do we get Friday Night Football? It’s likely coming. IMHO the NFL is killing their golden goose. They are oversaturated as is. But their greed for additional revenue knows no bounds.

    And, quite frankly,I have a great wife and kids. If I devoted 3 nights a week watching ball over being with them, They are likely gone. No thanks. I enjoy watching my team and SNF if it’s a good match up. The rest is just too much.

    Not a Basement Fanboy

  35. nfl1920 says:
    March 24, 2023 at 12:23 pm
    People don’t want to watch Amazon streaming. They don’t want to pay and the quality sucks.

    How do you know about the quality if you don’t watch? There are 167.2 million Amazon Prime subscribers. I’m pretty sure that most of them watch streaming.

  36. Until the NFLPA decides to take a stand, the greedy owners will do whatever they want and spin it in a way to show they are right.

  37. So let’s say your team is on a hot streak. You’re 9-3, season is going great after a bad year last year. You just won a hard fought Monday night game, now you’re 10-3, looking forward to getting back to work for next Sunday against the Chiefs/Eagles/Bills to show the world you’re for real.

    Sorry, Bezos needs to hike his ratings up and doesn’t want to show Cleveland/Arizona.

    Tell me how this isn’t about money.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.