The NFL has indeed shut down a planned fantasy football convention organized by Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
“NFL has canceled our fantasy football convention this year in Vegas and that is disappointing,” Romo said on Twitter. “I’m sad for the fans and players.”
The league pulled the plug because the event would have happened on the property of a Las Vegas casino. And while that was the official reason for the move, at least one veteran league insider suspects that another factor motivated the decision.
The league was pissed that it didn’t think of doing a fantasy football convention before a player did.
The source predicts that the NFL will now get into the fantasy football convention business, holding its own event that will compete with those organized by players and others not connected to the NFL. And the key letters are N, F, and L; only the league can use those in the marketing, promotion, and presentation of a fantasy-football event.
It’s actually surprising the NFL hasn’t already invaded that space, given the obsession that millions have with the offshoot of pro football that blurs lines between teams and creates a separate experience that supplements rooting for one franchise to make it to the Super Bowl. At a time when the NFL continues to shun all forms of gambling (except for lottery tickets with NFL logos on them), the NFL embraces the one form of gambling that technically isn’t gambling because the fantasy-football industry had the right lobbyists in the right places to persuade Congress that fantasy football is a game not of chance but a game of skill.
That distinction is essentially a game of shells, with fast-talking proponents of the ability to risk money on the convoluted blending of performances from different players on different teams against different opponents in different locations at different times under different weather conditions as something more like buying stocks and less like betting on the outcomes of the games in which the individual players from a fantasy-football team play.
Hell yes it’s gambling. But officially it’s not. And it’s only a matter of time before the NFL keeps expanding the billion-dollar pie with the first annual official NFL fantasy football convention.