By Ashley Dunkak
FORD FIELD (CBS DETROIT) – Speaking to season ticket holders at the Lions Town Hall Meeting at Ford Field on Monday night, Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand touted the growth of the NFL but echoed a sentiment most recently voice by outspoken billionaire businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
“We have to be careful,” Lewand said. “It’s still about the game of football. There’s an old saying that pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.
“We have to be mindful of the fact that, particularly in a place like our city where the fans mean so much to us, we have to show them that respect back,” Lewand continued. “I’m a big fan of this expanded Thursday night football package that’s coming on CBS this fall, but there’s also a limit to how much we can be out there, and we want to make sure that it’s a game that people can enjoy, that they can enjoy it in the way they want to enjoy it.”
Cuban told reporters March 24 that he believes the NFL is 10 years away from implosion – in part due to increasing its exposure with the aforementioned expanded Thursday football package – and Cuban began his diatribe with the same description that Lewand used Monday.
“I’m just telling you: Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy,” Cuban told reporters, according to multiple media reports. “Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way. I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule No. 1 of business.”
While Lewand started off on a cautionary note, he did not seem particularly worried, and he certainly did not predict doom the way Cuban did.
“We have to be smart about how we let people interact with our game in the digital space, a new product coming out this fall called NFL Now, which is really interesting – basically the Lions on demand whenever you want them and news that’s customized to your cell phone or your tablet,” Lewand said. “At the same time, we have to be mindful of the fact that what grew this game into what it is now is a real sense of partnership amongst the owners, particularly in the 1960s, that said everyone should have access to football. We’re still the only sport that it is on broadcast television for every single game in the home market and a participating market, so even when a game’s on cable, we’re on broadcast TV in those two participating markets, and we have to make sure that that access stays available for all the fans and that we stay true to the fundamentals of the game, as [head coach Jim Caldwell] said earlier. That’s what, really, the game is all about at its core.
“We can’t get caught up in the marketing and the glitz at the expense of those fundamentals,” Lewand added. “Tradition, balanced with technology, I think is the way to go as we grow this game, but it’s all thanks to the support of the fans like you guys.”