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Rod Wood talks Hard Knocks, uniforms & more

PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Detroit Lions were named this year's subject of HBO's Hard Knocks series.

Lions team president Rod Wood is hoping it's the last time, or at least the last time in a long time, football fans see the Lions featured on the annual HBO series that gives an inside look into an NFL team during training camp and the preseason.

"In all fairness, I'd rather not be eligible to be on it," Wood said Monday. "But since we are, we're going to embrace it. I think it'll be a good way to build some momentum heading into the season and hopefully give our fans a behind-the-scenes look that otherwise is very difficult to provide."

Teams with returning head coaches who have not made the playoffs the previous two seasons and have not appeared on the series in the past 10 years are eligible to be selected, though others can volunteer.

Wood said there's been some reluctance in the past from other teams to participate, but after talking to those teams, they've come out of it enjoying the process and feeling better for doing it.

"I think it'll be a good way to build that momentum and hopefully get the season off to a good start," Wood said.

Wood also touched on a number of other topics in a wide-ranging interview with reporters at NFL owners meetings Monday, as follows:

Uniforms: Asked about potential uniform changes, Wood said nothing is planned this offseason, but the team is in the process of forming a committee to look at potential changes next offseason in 2023. Wood says there is an option of adding another helmet, and the Lions will look into that as part of the process.

Attendance: Numbers were down for the Lions last year. There were a number of things Wood said played a factor in that, including losing 5,000 fans from Canada weekly due to COVID-19 restrictions at the border. Wood mentioned how Detroit wasn't cleared until July to know if they were able to host fans, which limited group sales and single sales. He also acknowledged that the previous season's performance and the slow start to the 2021 season did not help.

Teams with the most attendance growth last season, per Wood, were teams that won football games, relocated to new markets or built a new stadium. Since the Lions won't be doing the last two, winning more is what Wood said will bring attendance up the quickest.

Wood said the Lions currently rank seventh or eighth in new season ticket sales, and their renewal rate was in the high 80 percent to low 90 percent range for next season.

Ford Field: There are a few tweaks at Ford Field with concessions options and the team store that are in the works, though Wood said more info will come on that later.

Wood was asked about the shelf life of Ford Field. He said they plan to be in the current location with the current stadium for the foreseeable future, but admitted updates may need to be evaluated in the future. One thing he mentioned was possibly taking some seats out to add different viewing options, including potentially creating some party areas.

Rule changes: Wood said the team is interested in hearing from the competition committee Tuesday morning on the proposed overtime rule changes. Wood joked that they have a head coach who likes to go for two, so maybe that proposal gets some extra support from them.

International Series: The NFL added another international market this year with the NFL now playing games in Germany. Wood said early on Germany is showing to be a hot market. He said 400,000 people are currently on a waitlist for tickets for the first game there this season. He thinks the growth the league has seen in the London market can be replicated in Germany.

Wood expects the Lions to play internationally either as a road game next year or for one of their extra home games in 2024.

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