NFL approves limited flexible schedule for Thursday night games

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Thursday Nights in the NFL has long been the most drastic feature of its made-for-TV schedule, a prime-time slot that has raised player safety concerns and produced numerous duds. competitive before moving to a streaming-only platform.

Now the league will have the power, albeit limited, to alter matchups.

NFL owners on Monday approved a flexible scheduling policy for Thursday night games on Amazon Prime Video, for weeks 13-17 only and with at least 28 days’ notice given to affected teams. The league could push a Thursday night game in that bracket to Sunday afternoon if there is a more desirable game, a mechanism currently in place for Sunday night and Monday night games.

No team would be required to play Thursday night more than twice in a season. The rule is just for 2023, for now. Any game from Weeks 13-17 could be selected to move to Thursday night, but the league said the bar for such a shakeup would be high.

“We’re incredibly savvy and incredibly sensitive to the flexing of a game and all the dynamics that go with it,” said Hans Schroeder, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NFL Media. “We’re also trying to balance how we get the best games in the best windows for our fans.”

In addition to prime-time allocations for flexible games, the NFL is also now putting the entire Week 18 schedule up for grabs until the week of so it can show two games with playoff implications on Saturday.

New York Giants owner John Mara, who criticized the proposal for its negative impact on fans, said after the vote he was disappointed but not surprised.

A rule was also approved Monday at NFL Spring Meetings that allows teams to play an emergency quarterback from the inactive roster if the top two are injured during a game, a move that stems from the roster challenge. depth of San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.

The settlement was originally proposed by the Detroit Lions. The designation of the third quarterback will not count towards the active player limit – 47 or 48 – which is determined 90 minutes before kickoff.

Emergency activation can only occur after an injury or disqualification, not for a performance-related decision or other conduct. If one of the first two quarterbacks is cleared by team medical staff to return to play, the third must be removed from play and may only return as a quarterback if an injury scenario reoccurs .

If a team puts three quarterbacks on the active roster for a game, they cannot use the rush option. Practice squad elevations on game day are also not eligible.

The 49ers had running back Christian McCaffery warming up on his arm during the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia, after Brock Purdy injured his elbow and Josh Johnson suffered a concussion. Purdy was forced back into the game but couldn’t get the ball past 10 yards as the 49ers scrapped their game plan for a heavy offense in their 31-7 loss to the Eagles on Jan. 29 .

The 49ers had already lost their two best quarterbacks — Trey Lance in Week 2 and Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13 — to season-ending injuries.

On the agenda this week were diversity initiatives in training and sports medicine and the awarding of two major events for the 2025 season. The Green Bay Packers received the NFL Draft and the San Francisco got Super Bowl 60.

Owners have also been made aware of the impending sale of Dan Snyder’s family’s Washington Commanders to Josh Harris’ group, a significant, if not urgent, matter. No vote on the record $6.05 billion transaction will take place this week.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, a member of the league’s finance committee, expressed cautious optimism that the deal will close.

“There are certain criteria that have to be met, and that’s how it is. It’s not there yet, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get there. It is complicated. Put it this way. I could explain it to you, and it wouldn’t mean anything to you,” Irsay said.

Neither Snyder nor his wife, Tanya, came to Minnesota for the reunion. The league’s preference, Irsay said, is to get the deal approved before the regular season begins. Irsay said the amount of money at stake and the number of investors involved in Harris’ group — which includes Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson — lengthened the approval process.

“We work hard. Everyone wants to do it, and it’s seeing that it’s in line with league policy. It’s a complicated deal, so we’re trying to work it out and hopefully we can. It will probably take several more weeks of talks before we see if we can reach the goal line,” Irsay said.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he wasn’t concerned about the viability of the offer from Harris, who owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils with partner David Blitzer , as long as it is properly structured.

“It will be,” Jones said. “It’s too important for them to have the right structure because they will benefit from how it’s been structured for everyone in the past.”

There is no timetable in place for a vote.

“They are exceptionally skilled owners,” Jones said. “That still rules the day to get it with the NFL.”


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