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When your team is contending, who doesn’t love the prestige of a prime time game? It’s one of the first things that fans look for when a schedule comes out. When the Cleveland Browns’ 2023 schedule was released a few weeks ago, besides noting that we were facing the Bengals to open the season, my next thought was, “what are our prime time/national games this year?” Cleveland has two of them — Monday Night Football in Week 2 at Pittsburgh, and Thursday Night Football in Week 17 against the New York Jets. Could that number change?
We’re all familiar with Sunday Night Football flexing, but for the 2023 season, Thursday Night Football flexing is being introduced:
The NFL has approved flex scheduling for Thursday Night Football with teams getting 28 days notice, source said. It’s in effect from weeks 13-17.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 22, 2023
That means that the Browns’ Week 17 game is no longer guaranteed to remain in prime time. Granted, one would hope that Cleveland would have a respectable record late in the year, and that the Jets with Aaron Rodgers would be a contender too. However, both teams could underachieve, quarterbacks could be injured, etc. If it was a Sunday night game being flexed to a Sunday afternoon game? No big deal. But a move from Thursday to Sunday, or Sunday to Thursday? Now you’re introducing a new layer of irking fans.
Imagine you’re a Jets fan, or an out-of-town Cleveland fan looking to come home, and you get tickets to that Thursday game — and book your flight and hotel accordingly. Then, the NFL moves it? Ugh. The 28-day advance notice does help a tad, as one could wait before booking the accommodations just to be sure the game won’t get moved. It could also work the other way — the Browns travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in Week 13 on a Sunday. You might see that on the schedule and book a trip to visit LA for a few days, starting with the long weekend. What if the game gets moved up to Thursday?
24 of 32 owners approved the proposal, including Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam. The resolution will be in effect for the 2023 season, and if no games are flexed, the resolution will roll into the 2024 season. What do you think of it, Browns fans?