The New Thursday Night Football Flex Rule is Proof America is in an Abusive Relationship with the NFL
I've said it before and I'll say it now without fear of contradiction: Generally speaking, Thursday Night Football sucks.
To be fair, as entertainment options go, it doesn't suck to the extent that say, the XFL does. Or Indiana Jones 5 seems to. Or the Disney Star Wars sequels did. Seriously, what was this minimal effort horseshit?
But without a doubt, since TNF went all season long a few years ago, the games have, for the most part, been the worst product the league produces. The players aren't ready to play on a short week. Neither are the coaches or the officials. By and large, they're sloppy, mistake-prone slogs. That's a fact not in dispute.
So the owners have taken taken swift and decisive action to improve the experience for all involved. And by "all involved," I mean Amazon Prime. After all, Jeff Bezos' superyacht sculptures don't pay for themselves:
So to help their broadcast partner out, a majority of NFL owners have voted to flex Thursday night games, with some restrictions:
And while I agree this is not only a bag-over-the-head kick in the face to the ticket buying public who plan their weekends, work lives, vacations and even weddings around these games, it flies directly in the face of the "player safety" Ginger Satan is always prattling on about:
I also need to add I have found the person responsible for this situation. And you can find him/her in the exact same place.
We can have a moral objection to rearranging the lives of people who bought their tickets in the spring in good faith. We can stare at the screen with concerned looks in our eyes as some wide receiver who barely got his body through Sunday's game "is slow to get up." But still, our eyes are going to be on Prime, not watching one of those 20 shows that have "Chicago" in the title.
Like I said in the headline, we and the NFL are in an abusive relationship. It's a power dynamic where we're depending on them, and they're just not that into us. At least not the tens of thousands of us that bought tickets and will now have to decide whether to sell them or have a really truly shitty day at work Friday. They do care about us when we come in groups of tens of millions, paying for the free shipping and catching ads for that show where Bezos spent a billion dollars to rob JRR Tolkien's grave.
And I'm fine with that. Which is to say, I learned to accept it a long time ago. People are pissed off about this because they're still naively holding onto some childlike belief that sports are there for some reason other than to make billionaires even more billionaireish.
Credit where it's due to Albert Breer for putting it this way:
You think the NFL cares that you booked a flight for a Sunday game in December that may now be played three days ahead of schedule? You think the league’s first concern is how players’ bodies may respond to playing on multiple short weeks in a single season? You think Park Avenue is worried about a potential logistics nightmare that could leave teams scrambling to find hotels with 190 rooms available during the holidays on short notice?
Of course not. The message here is clear. To the players, it’s: Take the money this will bring you and shut up. To the teams it’s, more or less: Deal with it. And to the fans, it’s: You’re the junkies, we’ve got your fix and you’ll keep coming back no matter how mad you might get. …
Amazon and other streaming services don’t need the NFL to prosper the same way that the networks do, and there’s really power in a willingness to walk away.
But I do know who won’t walk away from the NFL over this, and that’s all of us.
A few hundred more decisions like this and maybe America will start to lose interest in pro football. But that's not happening in this lifetime. Kickoff on that first game they flex in December can't some soon enough. I wish I could quit you, but I can't.