Lions' Rod Wood talks potential uniform changes in 2023, pursuing Watson trade and more

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Palm Beach, Fla. — Despite being eligible for new uniforms, the Detroit Lions won't be making any changes this year. But team president and CEO Rod Wood acknowledged the franchise has begun a process that could lead to a new look in 2023. 

"It's really like a year-plus lead time," Wood said in an interview with local reporters at the NFL's annual league meeting on Monday. "We just convened a committee. I know we get a lot of things tweeted at us and suggestions about what fans want, so we catalogue all those and we'll take them under advisement."

As Wood explains it, the committee consists of him, vice president of football and business administration Mike Disner, as well as members of the marketing, communication and football staffs. The team is so early in the process they haven't even started consulting with Nike, who will ultimately design any uniform. 

Lions president and CEO Rod Wood said the franchise is in the process of exploring changes to the team's uniform.

And while the team is exploring possibilities, Wood also wouldn't go as far as guaranteeing a change was on the horizon. 

“I wouldn’t say it’s a goal necessarily, but we’re going to evaluate it and then decide if it’s the right thing at the right time," he said. "Once you make the change, then you’re stuck for five years. So we want to make sure that if we do it, it’s worthwhile and we’ll be happy for the next five years.” 

One item that doesn't seem to be under consideration is an alternate look that would pay tribute to the team's Portsmouth, Ohio origins. Prior to moving to Detroit in 1934, the franchise played its first four seasons as the Portsmouth Spartans, sporting a purple-and-gold color scheme. 

"We don’t talk about it, so I think the answer is probably we’re focused on Detroit and the Detroit Lions and not the history of the Portsmouth Lions," Wood said. "I think I might get killed if we went back to different colors."

In addition to uniforms, Wood touched on several other topics: 

► The Lions finished last in the league in attendance in 2021 and Wood noted there's only one easy solution to getting fans back to packing the stands: Winning. 

"I think coming into the season with the prior two seasons not being that good and getting off to a slow start certainly didn’t help fans wanting to come to games later in the season," Wood said. "I think if we start off playing well, and hopefully COVID’s completely behind us, you’ll see a return to full stadiums."

Wood did note the pandemic continued to impact the Lions' ticket sales on two fronts last season. First, the team didn't get clearance from the city and state to host fans until June, putting them way behind on ticket sales. Secondly, the closed border blocked an estimated 5,000 fans coming from Canada each week. 

The Lions didn't raise season ticket prices after finishing 3-13-1 last season and Wood said the renewal rate, which is hovering around 90%, has exceeded internal expectations. He also stated the team ranks among the top 10 in the league in new season ticket sales. 

► Although Wood wouldn't definitively say the Lions didn't have conversations about Deshaun Watson, he made it clear the team had little interest in trading for the quarterback. 

"We have a quarterback," Wood said, referring to starter Jared Goff. "We were never in the game for that. I don't want to get into the off-the-field stuff…but it just wasn't part of our plans."

Wood did say the Lions would continue to evaluate character decisions on an individual basis, specifically referencing the team's decision to draft wide receiver Quintez Cephus after he was found not guilty of two counts of sexual assault during his time at Wisconsin. 

"Certainly we're going to look into everything and we're going to avoid certain types of behaviors," Wood said. "I think everybody gets the chance to make the case about what really happened."

Wood declined to share what types of behaviors the team would avoid. 

► The Lions won't play an international game this year, and have never given up a home game to play out of the country, but Wood acknowledged the possibility exists in 2024, the next time the Lions are scheduled to play at home nine times out of the 17 regular-season matchups. 

"They never even approached us about it this year, so I don’t know," Wood said. "We’re probably due. We haven’t been (since 2015)."

► Regarding the home stadium, Wood said there was some upgrades in the works but declined to elaborate on any details at this time. One thing he did say was under consideration was the removal of some upper-level seats to create more party spaces. 

"We did that a little bit with the Miller Lite Taproom when we did the renovation a couple years ago," Wood said. 

Wood also made it clear the Lions don't expect to be in the market for a new stadium anytime soon. Ford Field will turn 20 years old this August. 

“I hope it’s (our home stadium) as far as we can see into the future," Wood said. "We’ll probably have to do some additional updates along the way. I think the location is hard to compete with. The one drawback, I think, is parking is an issue sometimes with being landlocked, but with what’s going on downtown, we’re in a perfect spot I think to participate in all that."

► Lions coach Dan Campbell didn't make the trip to the league meeting this weekend. Wood said the coach wasn't feeling well and decided to stay home.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers