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Mark Cuban: “I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion”

Mar 24, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

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The NFL pretty much mints money for its owners. It is the unquestioned biggest sporting league in the United States. It is an 800 pound gorilla — it gets whatever it wants.

Mark Cuban thinks that will be its undoing. And soon.

Cuban owns an NBA team in a football city and had some interesting comments on the NFL and its plan to expand its television package to other nights in speaking with (via Eye on Basketball).

“I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion,” Cuban said Sunday evening when his pregame conversation with reporters, which covered a broad range of topics, swayed toward football. “I’m just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy. 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 number one of business.”

Personally, I don’t see it. There certainly is no evidence of this.

Americans can’t get enough of the NFL and by the nature of the sport there is a limited supply — 16 games and just one a week — to help keep demand high. I don’t think expanding their television package — games Sunday, Monday and Thursday — really hurts that balance (expanding the league to 18 games a season would be worse for the league, in my opinion).

It is possible that football’s popularity ebbs some over time — there was a time horse racing was the king of American sports — but certainly not in 10 years.

Where the NBA has an advantage over the NFL is the global aspect of the game. Football is American. While it gets played a little overseas it is only really popular in America. Basketball is wildly popular around the globe. It gives the NBA a much bigger market to tap into over time.

But that doesn’t mean football is going anywhere domestically.

  1. miamiheatles - Mar 24, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    No disrespect but the NBA is the best sport out there right now.

    • zerole00 - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Meh, the NBA definitely feels a lot more personable (because it’s a star driven league), but I like that the NFL is more competitive (that is, any team can flop or overachieve every year). For the NBA, the “rebuild” can take half a decade.

      What I think might undo the NFL if anything, is their negotiations for new stadiums. With the economy the way it is, people just don’t like seeing that much money being thrown at a private business (especially for teams that underachieve). That’s coming from a casual sports fan, I personally wouldn’t have minded if the Vikings had left.

    • pharohislife - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      NBA Season: 82 Games
      NHL Season: 82 Games
      MLB Season: 162 Games
      NFL Season: 16 Games

      And that right there is the main reason the NFL puts out the best product in the end. It makes for Quality over Quantity.
      Fans can actually pay attention to every single game of the season that their team plays, with NBA or any of the other sports you’d have to be a hardcore fan to do that, the schedules arn’t causal fan friendly.

      Not only that but with the fewer games you have better competition since every single game you play can literally make the difference in the outcome of your season. And when the season comes to a close and their has only been 18-20 games played by the best teams it leaves you wanting more. The short schedule serves as a tease and leaves you craving NFL all the way up until training camp. The other 4 major sports have no choice but to take a backseat to the NFL and see who can be 2nd best.

      • zerole00 - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        That’s not entirely fair to be honest, a smaller sample size of games means officiating errors can affect the outcome a lot more (as some fans would agree with after last year).

        The NFL plays fewer games because of the increased risk of injury in football versus other sports, not because it’s a matter of quality over quantity.

      • pharohislife - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:21 PM

        @zerole00 I never said it was a matter of quality over quantity I’m just stating that that is the natural result of the smaller schedule.

        The NBA could possibly benefit from shortening their season to at least 60+ Games like that lockout season, even with 50, imagine how much urgency you would see from teams and a larger percent of the season would be competitive.

        Instead of teams going all out for the last 25 games of an 82 game season which is what we see currently, you’d be more likely to see teams pick up their urgency for say the last 30 games of a 50 game season.Then to avoid injuries they could space the 50+ games out and a team will maybe play just 2 or 3 games in a 7 day week.

      • zerole00 - Mar 24, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        That’s not really a solid argument though. The “most competitive” teams are still going to be the same teams regardless of a shorter or longer schedule. In the East it’s still going to be the Heat, Pacers, then whoever else. The NBA is a victim of it’s own design, there just aren’t enough LeBrons or Durants for every team to be competitive.

        As far as the NBA benefiting, that’s really a mixed argument. At the end of the day the almighty dollar is still king, and less games generally means less revenue (especially if enough teams are selling out). There’s a reason why the NBA is actually trying to expand its number of games. Better product though? Sure, I personally ignore MLB until they get to the post season because there are so many “filler” games.

      • sixerstrong - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        I couldn’t agree more. It’s too much of a time committment to follow your team plus any other team in the NBA. To dedicate 2-3 hours a few times a week can be exhausting (especially when you are watching the Sixers). It’s the reason why fantasy basketball hasn’t taken off like fantasy football. Too much to have to pay attention to.

    • sumkat - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      The NBA is and will remain the worst of the 4 major sports. It’s their own fault, they changed it from a team game to an individual game played on a team (aka, fast paced baseball)

      This is coming from someone who’s personal favorite sport is far and away basketball. The NBA product is awful, and has been for a while now. There is a reason nobody outside of a handful of cities (host cities, not random cities), that even care

  2. capspats - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    I’m a heat fan, but IMO hockey and football are better because there’s more parity than in basketball.

    • sportsfan18 - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      part of that is the actual game itself.. not the league or the structure etc…

      In basketball, there are only 5 men on the court. so a LeBron is 20% of the total when on the court.

      he also plays BOTH offense and defense while on the court.

      A Brady or a Manning are only 9% of the team on the court and they do NOT play defense.

      It’s easier for stars in basketball to affect things to a greater degree than a star in Baseball, Football etc…

      Since there are only so many LeBron’s, Brady’s and Mannings, parity pops up more when a roster has 53 men on it instead of 15.

      I mean, look at the min’s played by the LeBron’s (he plays like 36 min’s out of 48 min’s each game which is about 75% of each game)…

      In other words he is able to affect parity and cause it to go away more as other teams don’t have a LeBron…

      In Football, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning do not and cannot play 75% of each game or 45 out of the 60 minute game…

      Same in Baseball. A star bats like 4 times a game and unless he is on base, he isn’t involved when all the other at bats are taking place by his team.

      MLB teams get around 33 to 35 at bats a game as a team… A Mike Trout will get around 4 of them. On defense, he’s only 1 of 9, not 1 of 5 like LeBron.

      LeBron is able to switch off and on other defenders at will like all basketball players as the court is small and switches happen often.

      Mike Trout cannot play 3rd base on one pitch, then move to 1st base then to CF or throw a pitch or two and then go to right field…

      He might get 3 or 4 balls hit his way in a game while he’s on defense…

      So parity occurs a lot MORE when there are MORE players on a team, 53 men, 25 men compared to 15 men.

      When the game itself is structured where the stars have much less involvement (4 at bats out of 34, only 3 or 4 plays on defense, when they play around 50% of the game as opposed to 75% or so) then that game will have more parity…

      • sumkat - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        It’s slightly part of the way the game is structured

        It’s mostly because of the way the game is officiated.

        Single players don’t dominate in the NCAA the way they do in the NBA, but the talent gap in the NCAA from elite players to scrubs is MUCH bigger. So why wouldn’t elite players dominate more in college?

        Because they call the game correctly

  3. penvik - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    How can anyone say NBA is better than NHL or NFL. ??? NBA and the sport of
    basketball is second rate compared to hockey and football.
    Not even in the same stratosphere. First of all until the NBA allows body contact it doesn’t compare, it’s in the soccer, figure skating, swimming, and volleyball realm. March madness is the pinnacle of the sport of basketball.
    I will never understand how people can put the NBA or heaven forbid Nascar at the top of sport. I don’t mind the odd basketball game but watching a car turn one direction for three hours is insanity.

    • calkinsrob - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      NFL>> all of them right now. but Id be careful saying NHL is better than the NBA. I think theyre both second to NHL. NHL is not a top sport in america.

      • sumkat - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        Numbers would suggest otherwise.

        NBA makes much more money globally, but within the US/Canada (where both leagues span), the difference is small

      • elcapitanfiscal - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:18 PM

        NHL is not a sport.

  4. kb2408 - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    Yeah, and Cuban is probably 10 hours away from making his next dumb comment. I love all the major sports leagues but the NFL is the best….and it’s not even close, IMO.

  5. jbeagles23 - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Football is dominating at the moment. North America can’t get enough of it. I love basketball and baseball as well ( hockey not so much even though I’m Canadian) there’s so many greats playing at the moment and the parity in the nfl is like no other league.

  6. ProBasketballPundit - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    I thought concussions would be the end of football’s reign in America but people don’t seem to mind all the pansy new rule changes. Basketball is my favorite sport by far, but I wouldn’t say it’s objectively the best. Because who could say that? It’s just high pace, high scoring, and features the most unadulterated exhibition of athleticism in the world.

  7. bucrightoff - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    The NFL’s mega popularity has everything to do with gambling. Since that’s going nowhere and in fact could increase going forward, Cuban is missing the point. Expanding when games is shown may have a slight ratings impact, but between football pools, fantasy and straight gambling, the NFL’s popularity in just that regard trumps every other sports popularity.

    There’s also the fact the NFL has had more different Super Bowl winners in the last 13 years than the NBA has had in the last 35. The NBA has the least amount of parity in North American sports. Every year every NFL fanbase can dream of the Super Bowl. Every year there’s at most 5 NBA teams with a chance. Until that changes the NFL is going nowhere.

    • Jeff - Mar 25, 2014 at 4:18 AM

      In the last 30 years, MLB has had the most different teams win its championship than the other teams in their leagues.
      And yes, the NBA is the worst.
      MLB = 20/30
      NHL = 18/30
      NFL = 19/32
      NBA = 15/30

  8. pacers24 - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    I used to love the NFL (live in indy so im a colts fan) but I have really gravitated more towards the nba the last 4-5 years because the talent and level of play is back to being where it was in the 90s when I first became a fan.

    The NFL keeps making the game more and more boring with stupid rules. we watch a 5 second play then spend the next minute or more watching replays of it. not to mention the 5 minutes nap we can take when they review a play.

    I prefer the up and down constant action of basketball ball but thats just my opinion.

    Also helps that my team is currently a contender and i have season tickets so im bias. But i just dont enjoy going to colts games as much as i do pacers games.

    I prefer nfl games on tv and i prefer watching nba games live.

  9. jcmeyer10 - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    From expanding the playoffs, to expanding the international operations, I think Cuban has a point. They are just looking at the bottom line instead of staying true (ish) to the sport. The rules and actions seemed to be all about money and not actually improving the game.

    He was one of the few guys to cash out of the .com bubble before it popped. Guy didn’t make his billion by being the hog that got slaughtered.

  10. remyje - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    No disrespect but the NBA is the best sport out there right now.

    says the guy who just became a heat fan…..

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      It’s not being Heat fans that makes us like the NBA more. It’s being Dolphins fans that make us like the NFL less.

  11. adoombray - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    I think this is the usual press lag effect, where you guys don’t write about something until its so obvious that everyone else is writing about it too.

    The NFL is done, the rules keep getting more and more complicated and the game experience consists of getting into arguments about the constant instant replays inbetween meaningless kickoffs. With the advent of the internet, I can read about what happened and maybe watch video clips of the important stuff and skip the terrible domestic beer ads. Football is so full of commercialized time wasted not actually watching the sport that I’m as sick of it as I’m sick of Superbowl ads that were on YouTube 2 weeks earlier anyway.

    I will take the NBA on a 24 second shot clock for sports anytime, the NBA doesn’t take itself so seriously and the athletes themselves are athletic in ways that anyone can become by just grabbing themselves a ball and hitting their local courts. The NBA still has soul, while football argues about it’s corporate sponsored fantasy stats for the troops.

    • bucrightoff - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      The NBA still has soul, while football argues about it’s corporate sponsored fantasy stats for the troops.

      Right. Remind again which league said its gonna have ads on its jerseys within 5 years? Say what you will about the NFL, teams like the Packers and Steelers will cease to exist before they become walking ads like NBA jerseys will be in 5-10 tears.

      • sixerstrong - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        The NFL tinkers too much. Small ads on jerseys don’t effect the actual game. The NFL is seriously debating getting rid of kick offs! You know, the most exciting play of the game? The event that signifies the beginning of a game. It’s ridiculous, and it’s just a whole bunch of beaureucrats trying to justify their existence with small “updates” to the rules. Baseketball is becoming more and more prophetic each year.

  12. casualcommenter - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    I very much doubt the NFL implodes in 10 years. NFL players got owned in the last lockout, so even though the NFL had HUGE new TV contracts in the pipeline, NFL owners managed to force the players to accept a smaller percentage of future revenue as part of the new CBA.

    That ensures the NFL will continue to be insanely profitable for owners, even if fan interest stalls out or even decreases. NFL players get just a small piece of the profits, and that prevents a scenario where player salaries potentially become too large for owners to feel comfortable paying.

    • casualcommenter - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      That being said, in terms of global reach, American football’s popularity is more or less limited to North America and Americans living abroad.

      Soccer is the biggest global sport in the world, but basketball is in second place. High profile NBA players like Kobe, LeBron, etc. have been signing endorsement deals in China and Europe. Meanwhile, among NFL players, not even Peyton Manning has billboards in China.

  13. mogogo1 - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    The one thing every empire has in common is that at its height it was impossible for anyone imagining it falling. Baseball was once the undisputed king and it fell and so will the NFL. It may take longer than 10 years, but it will happen.

    The owners are incredibly greedy, there are splits in the ownership between the big and the small markets just like you see in other sports, Goodell seems intent on pushing the London expansion which will without a doubt fail and turn into a PR nightmare, the concussion thing isn’t going away no matter how hard they try and some of their rule changes trying to combat it are going to end up doing long-term harm to the game, and they are well on their way to completely pricing the regular fan out of going to the stadium.

  14. andreboy1 - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    The NFL is 10x better than the NBA

    The NBA is 5x better than MLB

    And all other sports aren’t even in the discussion

    Cuban is a jealous clown who ruined his team after they won. He had a business plan that failed miserably

    Mark sounds like the back-up high school QB who trash talks the starter “just wait, he’ll blow it then I’ll take over”

  15. bballhistorian - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    As a person who earned bulk of his wealth during the “ bubble” heyday right before it burst, I can see where Cuban is coming from.

    The only main important point that Cuban misses is that although Pro Leagues are a “business”, it is a SPORT….which people don’t ever turn away from for many reasons. And football doesnt go away due to its illustrious history that spans past generations. If Cuban were talking about a tech business or something along those lines, then he’s 100% correct.

  16. Jeff - Mar 25, 2014 at 4:11 AM

    I hope Cuban is right, but unfortunately I don’t think he is.
    The NFL is easily the most boring sport of the four major, North American, stick and ball sports. Easily.
    I won’t attend a game in person anymore. Kick the ball, commercial break. Run a play, replay break and on and on ad infinitum. Many say baseball is boring, but at least there’s an ebb and flow to baseball, not so much with the NFL and its erratic play.
    The NFL is popular because it translates great to the TV, there are only 16 games and a team, for the most part, plays only one day per week. The NFL also picks up so many casual fans because of those same reasons. It’s so easy to be an NFL fan. if you you want to see a real committed fan, a true fanatic, then you need to turn to the other three sports.

    But being hoggy, being piggy, that’s Cuban right? He’s one who’s pushing for ads on jersey, right?

    Oh and parity, that’s baseball. In the last 30 years, more different teams have won a championship in MLB. There have been fewer teams in other leagues, and the NBA has the worst percentage.

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