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Mavericks owner Cuban: NFL popularity will fall

| Monday, March 24, 2014, 6:57 p.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban already creates news in the NBA with his often controversial comments. Now, he's causing a bit of a ripple in the NFL.

Cuban is forecasting a huge crash in NFL popularity within a decade, one brought on by an increasing saturation of games over multiple nights.

“I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion,” Cuban, a Mt. Lebanon native, said in comments before the Mavericks' game Sunday. “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.”

Cuban followed those remarks with a 1,500-word Facebook post Monday in which he further explained why the NFL is in for a major downfall.

He predicted elite athletes will move on to other, safer sports; TV distribution changes, such as increased online viewing, will lessen the already declining influence of the TV networks that carry NFL games; the ongoing player behavior issues will further turn off NFL fans; and fans ultimately will become bored with fantasy football.

Cuban said TV viewers will get tired of having NFL games available on so many nights, just as they stopped watching former hit TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday at the annual league meetings that he hadn't read Cuban's comments, but he argued the extra TV games were added because fans watch them and want them.

“We've taken, I think, an incremental and very thoughtful approach on how we've taken more games to the national platform,” he said. “And that's been, in large part, driven by our fans. The fans want these games. We went from six games Thursday night to eight to 13 to, now, 16 games. And we see the reaction from fans. We see the reaction by the ratings and the viewership levels.”

Patriots owner Robert Kraft called Cuban “a very intelligent man. … (But) we have pretty lucrative (TV) contracts going for almost the next decade. I have great respect for Mr. Cuban, but I'm not sure I agree with his conclusion.”

While the NFL competition committee has not yet voted on any possible rule changes, as was expected on Monday, the league awarded award 32 compensatory picks in the May 8-10 draft — three to the Steelers, who get picks in the third, fifth and sixth rounds.

The NFL awards compensatory picks based a complicated formula that takes into consideration the production and salary of the players who leave a team in free agency. The Steelers lost Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Mundy in free agency last year.

The picks will be the 97th, 173rd, and 215th overall selections in the May 8-10 draft and will give the Steelers nine picks, with two each in the fifth and sixth rounds.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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