Though it comes as little surprise given Pittsburgh Steelers’ owner Art Rooney II’s recent comments, the Steelers were one of just a handful of teams to vote against the NFL flexing Thursday night games going forward.
According to Albert Breer as shared by MySportsUpdate’s Ari Meirov, the Steelers were one of just six teams to vote against the proposal. The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers reportedly abstained.
The New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and New Orleans Saints joined the Steelers in the vote. Breer’s column over at Pro Football Talk provides more detail. The flex proposal initially passed the broadcast committee vote, sending it to the owners with 24 “yes” votes needed to pass it.
Breer fills in with the rest.
“The proposal for flexing TNF games promised teams 28 days’ warning if they could be flexed and 15 days’ notice that the move was actually being made. It was approved unanimously by the broadcast committee and the ventures committee, which brought it to the floor for discussion at the Arizona Biltmore.
When it got there, Giants owner John Mara was first to speak—giving an impassioned, sometimes-angry speech about how there isn’t any need to do this and how it’d only alienate the league’s most avid fans (those who actually attend games). Bucs owner Joel Glazer, a member of the broadcast committee, countered him, while Steelers owner Art Rooney II and Bears chairman George McCaskey spoke up to back up the points Mara made.”
It tracks with comments Rooney made about the proposal during the NFL Owner Meetings held last month. Rooney said the idea wasn’t fair to teams or fans.
“The biggest problem I had with the flex was that the proposal was you only had 15 days’ notice”, Rooney told Steelers.com’s Dale Lolley. “That’s just too short of a turnaround time for a Sunday to a Thursday as far as I’m concerned”.
Peter King’s Football Morning In America column mentions a similar story, Rooney having dinner with Roger Goodell to discuss – among other things, I’m sure – the proposed flexed scheduling, leading to a funny encounter with Mara.
The proposal would have allowed the league to flex more attractive games to the primetime slot, avoiding the league running into boring and often ugly affairs between two middling clubs. The NFL was likely pushing extra hard on the change to support Amazon, which just finished its first year holding exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football.
Rooney did support the notion of teams playing up to a pair of Thursday night games throughout a season.
As Breer’s column notes, Mara has been the loudest and most outspoken critic about the proposal, noting it’d unfair for fans to make adjustments like that. For many, they wouldn’t be able to attend a late Thursday night game for a game they initially bought tickets for a Sunday afternoon contest. The Giants and Steelers are among a very short list of family-owned teams and have always had close ties. So much so that famous actress Rooney Mara is part of the Rooney and Mara families.
While the initial proposal has been struck down, it isn’t dead yet. The matter will be revisited, along with other topics like the hip drop tackle and the “Brock Purdy” emergency QB rule, next month. We’ll see if the NFL can convince two teams to support it. Perhaps the league will circle back to the Broncos and Panthers, the two teams who abstained. If they can get them to vote yes, the six “no’s” will still lose out.