CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns are in danger of being booted from the NFL’s prime time national television schedule.
During NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual ‘State of the NFL’ press conference in Houston, Texas Wednesday, Goodell revealed that the league is evaluating its policy of featuring every team on the Thursday night schedule.
“We are thinking about whether we re-evaluate that and maybe don’t have quite the number of teams,” Goodell said. “And maybe even change the staggering of our Thursday night games so that you have consecutive games on CBS, consecutive games on the NFL Network and then consecutive games on NBC.”
In 2012 the NFL committed to featuring every franchise at least once in prime time as part of the expanded Thursday night football schedule but lower ratings and quality of play in those games has Goodell and the league revisiting it.
But the games themselves aren’t going anywhere.
“Thursday night football is something that we’re very committed to,” Goodell said.
Goodell added that the Thursday night games on NBC were the No. 2 rated show in prime time while games that aired on CBS were fourth – both very good numbers for the league.
The commissioner was dismissive of complaints concerning injury risk or quality of play on Thursday night.
“There’s been absolutely no indications that there’s any further risk of injuries and injury rates are actually slightly lower on Thursday night than they are on Sunday,” Goodell said. “And as it relates to the quality of the game, we’ve seen that be incredibly positive also. We’ve seen less turnovers. We’ve seen less penalties. In almost every aspect of what you would say the quality of the game, we’ve seen high quality of football on Thursday nights.”
The league has tried to hide the Browns’ Thursday night appearances the past few years on NFL Network in between the simulcast schedule agreements with NBC or CBS. This past season the Browns lost in Baltimore 28-7 on Nov. 10 in a game few watched outside of the 2 markets.
Sunday night football on NBC has usurped ESPN’s Monday night as the league’s prime time jewel in recent years and the Browns have been rarely featured. Their last Sunday night game came in a 10-6 loss to the Steelers on Sept. 14, 2008 at home and their last Monday night appearance was the ‘Kick-6’ 33-27 loss to the Ravens on Nov. 30, 2015.
The Browns will play in London against Minnesota next season but the time and date of the game has not been announced.
Should the NFL revise its scheduling policy, until the Browns begin putting a quality product on the field, it appears that the league will limit the national exposure of its worst franchise by keeping them out of prime time altogether.