Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he was caught off-guard by how many people criticized him for saying that the NFL is 10 years away from implosion.
“I honestly didn’t say it expecting this big a response or this big a hullabaloo,” Cuban said on Pardon the Interruption. “But I guess I should have known that when you say anything negative about the NFL, everybody is going to talk about it.”
Cuban referenced the Colts moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis 30 years ago (although he was off on the timeline) to point out that the NFL hasn’t always been on top of the American sports landscape and may not remain on top.
“Look, over a period of 10 years anything is possible, and we’ll see how they handle things. It was, what, 18 or 19 years ago that teams were leaving in the middle of the night,” Cuban said.
Cuban also reiterated his belief that fantasy football might turn out to be a passing fad, and that if people turn away from fantasy football, they’ll turn away from the NFL as well.
“They’re dependent on fantasy football, not for a majority of their viewership or anything like that, but on the margin, there’s a lot of people who watch football because they play fantasy sports,” Cuban said. “Are they sure that fantasy sports are going to remain dominant for 10 years? That’s a tough bet, there aren’t a lot of any type of game that stays dominant for 10 years.”
Cuban said he wasn’t trying to get attention with his comments and isn’t claiming to forecast the future. He was simply making an observation.
“Did I say with certainty they were going to implode? No, but I said if they’re not careful about how they treat their fans and how they offer their product and how they price their product, it’s not a slam dunk that they’re going to be on top in 10 years,” Cuban said.
It’s certainly possible that the NFL won’t be as popular 10 years from now as it is today, just as the NBA’s surge in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s was followed by a decline in popularity after the retirement of Michael Jordan. But right now, football is America’s most popular sport by such a huge margin that when a basketball guy like Cuban talks about it, it’s hard for him not to seem a little jealous.