The NFL announced a potential rule change last week and the Green Bay Packers are one of the teams that is trying to prevent it from passing.
The league is trying to make it possible for late-season Sunday afternoon games to be “flexed” to Thursday night in an attempt to get better matchups for Thursday Night Football. Amazon Prime now has exclusive rights to that television package.
Another proposed change is increasing the number of Thursday appearances each NFL team could make from one to two. The Green Bay Packers are properly opposed to the changes.
The reasoning behind the proposal is that the league is trying to get better ratings for Thursday Night Football and to keep Amazon Prime happy after they shelled out big bucks for the rights to the broadcasts. The flex scheduling would get more attractive late-season matchups for the network and would help the league get even more money for the package when it comes up for renewal.
For the league to pass this measure, they need 24 of the 32 NFL teams to vote for it. At the league GM meetings last week, they got 22 votes for so the proposal has yet to be approved by the teams. The proposal could be brought up again next month at the next owners meetings.
The Green Bay Packers are one of the team’s opposing the proposed changes. In his monthly column on the Packers official Web site, team president Mark Murphy explained the reasons for the organization’s opposition:
“The league has allowed flexible scheduling for Sunday Night Football for many years now, but moving a game from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night is a lot different than moving a Sunday game up to Thursday for the reasons you note,” Murphy explained. “Moreover, we will allow flexing for Monday night games this year for the first time, so we don’t know what issues may arise from this change. I believe that we do need to consider the fans in the stands, and how this would affect them – especially since so many of our fans travel a good distance to come to Lambeau Field and stay in hotels.”
The proposal set forth by commissioner Roger Goodell essentially ignores the people who purchase tickets to attend the games. The NFL releases the league schedule in April each year and many fans make plans as soon as the schedule comes out, picking the game or games they wish to attend whether they are home games for their local team or road games.
The Packers are one of the teams with a large fan base across the country and their fans travel well. Even at road games, there are usually a large number of people wearing cheeseheads in the stands.
Many fans purchase plane tickets, reserve hotel rooms and buy tickets months in advance in order to attend these games.
It’s one thing to move a game from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night. The disruption to hotel rooms and flight schedules is relatively minimal and the changes are usually announced with enough notice to make minor adjustments to travel schedules if necessary.
But moving a scheduled game by three full days changes everything. That requires major adjustments to travel plans and even whether people can attend work on Thursday or Friday during the week if they are traveling to the game.
Because we are exclusively discussing games in Weeks 14-17 of the season, we’re also talking holiday time when demand for air travel and hotel rooms are at their highest and changing travel plans is more difficult. We are talking about the week after Thanksgiving until roughly New Year’s Day if we go by the 2022 NFL schedule.
Thursday night football is bad enough in many ways. It prevents the players from resting enough between games and poorly played games are often the result. Home teams also have a bigger advantage on Thursdays as they don’t have to travel during a short week. Having some teams play twice a year on Thursday nights is a competitive disadvantage if other contending teams only have to do it once.
To flex games on Thursday night late in the season may keep Amazon happy but it shows a total disregard for the fans who pay money to attend games and local businesses who depend on the games for their livelihoods. It doesn’t help the players’ health either.
The NFL can make more money with this flex plan but that doesn’t make it right. The Packers organization is right to oppose it.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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