Howard Katz has been a respected sports business executive for decades, so it was no surprise movers and shakers turned out in force Tuesday as he was honored at UJA-Federation of New York’s Sports for Youth Luncheon in Manhattan.
NBC’s Al Michaels emceed, former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol introduced Katz, and in the audience were NBA commissioner Adam Silver, former NBA commissioner David Stern, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Jets president Neil Glat, CNN president Jeff Zucker and the current heads of NBC Sports, CBS Sports and ESPN.
But in addition to his network of friends and his charitable work – in this case, Sports for Youth, which provides grants for facilities and programs in the New York area – Katz also is in the enviable position of having powerful men and women forever wanting to be nice to him for professional reasons.
As senior vice president of broadcasting for the NFL, Katz is the league’s point man for developing its schedule – and most importantly its television schedule.
So, what does it feel like having everyone want to butter you up? “Only for a short period of time,” he said, laughing.
How does he juggle all those egos – and all the dollar signs attached to them?
“I try to treat everybody fairly,” he said. “The only thing I have is my own integrity and I think all of our partners are friends of mine and have been for a very long time and I think they know that I do the best I can with my team to try to come up with as fair a schedule for everybody as we can.
“Nobody gets everything they want, but I think everyone feels as though generally they’re treated fairly. Everybody complains about stuff all the time, but between the 32 clubs and all the television partners, they’re people I’ve known for a long time.
“I’d like to hope there’s a trust factor . . . I try to be honest and upfront with people and if somebody’s not getting something they really want I try to explain why.”