Two years after the NFL strong-armed Tony Romo and his business partners into abandoning plans to hold a fantasy football convention at a Las Vegas facility owned by a casino (but which wasn’t itself a casino), another test has emerged, which literally involves strong-arming.
Via Jarrett Bell of USA Today, nearly three dozen players have arrived in Las Vegas for an arm wrestling competition. It’s being held at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, which puts it even more directly at odds with league policy than Romo’s event did.
The league claims that the players and organizers didn’t ask for permission.
“Had we been asked in advance if this was acceptable, we would have indicated that it was in direct violation of the gambling policy,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart told Bell. “No one sought pre-approval.”
The entity putting on the event disputes that position, contending that two different departments at the league office were aware of the situation, and that the league recommended steps like turning off gambling machines in the vicinity of the competition.
The participants include Steelers linebacker James Harrison (coach), retired-for-now running back Marshawn Lynch (coach), Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, Raiders punter Marquette King, Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards, Patriots safety Patrick Chung, and Cowboys receiver Lucky Whitehead.
Discipline from the league is possible, Bell reports. But with the NFL less than two weeks removed from approving the relocation of the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas, Lockhart’s job will suddenly become a lot more complicated if/when the league tries to reconcile embracing the Las Vegas experience with punishing any players who do.