PHOENIX – Giants co-owner John Mara said Tuesday afternoon that he is “adamantly opposed” to an “abusive” Thursday Night Football flexing effort that was narrowly voted down by owners at the Arizona Biltmore.
“At some point, can we please give some consideration to the people who are coming to the games?” an incredulous Mara said. “People make plans to go to these games weeks and months in advance. And 15 days ahead of time to say, ‘Sorry, folks, that game you were planning on taking your kids to Sunday at one o’clock, it’s now gonna be Thursday night.’
“What are we thinking about?” he asked rhetorically.
The measure would have allowed the NFL to flex any Sunday game from Weeks 14-17 to the previous Thursday night with 15 days notice.
Mara said it “fortunately” didn’t get enough votes Tuesday. But he said the vote was “close,” the league will “probably revisit it in May,” and he seemed worried that it will pass.
“I understand that the ratings towards the end of the year on Amazon were down a little bit, but we probably had some bad matchups,” he said. “So let’s pick better matchups.”
The league will be able to flex games to Monday Night Football starting this season already. Mara thinks the Thursday Night push is too much.
“Flexible scheduling, as it is, is really inconsiderate to our season ticket holders and to people who fill our stadiums every week,” he said. “People have gotten used to going from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night. That doesn’t mean that they like it.
“This year, we can be flexed to Monday night, which I think is really inconsiderate to our ticket holders,” he continued. “But to flex a game back to Thursday night to me is just abusive, and I am adamantly opposed to it.”
Mara, the chairman of the NFL’s management council, also wasn’t “crazy about” the Thursday Night measure that passed on Thursday: Teams can now be scheduled for two Thursday games each season instead of one.
“You’re gonna add a second one and it’s gonna be late in the season when players’ bodies are a little more beaten up and battered than they were maybe earlier in the season,” Mara said. “I think we need to look at that. . . Players don’t like playing on Thursday nights. . . I think you add a second one, it’s not gonna be very popular.”
Mara’s most alarming revelation about the Thursday Night flexing proposal was that the league tried to force it through without vetting it through the proper channels.
“I think this should have been vetted with the Health and Safety Committee, it should have been vetted with the Competition Committee, and it wasn’t,” said Mara, who serves on both committees. “They just tried to push it through.”
Mara said the owners only found out about the proposal last Thursday. That was clearly a point of frustration, too.
“That’s another conversation,” he said.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press conference after Mara’s comments that “there isn’t anyone in that room who doesn’t put the fans first. Obviously, providing the best matchups for fans is part of what we do.”
But Goodell is said to be among those behind the push to flex Thursday Night Football.
“If they had done a poll of the 32 head coaches, I think it would have been overwhelmingly against that and the general managers, as well,” Mara said. “They don’t get to cast these votes.
“I understand TV ratings are important and it was a challenge towards the end of the year last year,” he added, “but there have gotta be better solutions than this.”