Few things in sports can match the drama of a Tony Romo-led Dallas Cowboys comeback. But this might be close.
Romo, the Cowboys star QB, is the face of the National Fantasy Football Convention, which has been defending itself against the NFL's impossible-to-justify pokes, prods and shut-down attempts. The NFFC is taking the NFL to court for a hearing on the NFL’s motion for summary judgment, as I reported last Sunday.
Romo’s side (the NFFC) is arguing that the league wrongly blocked last year’s planned fantasy football convention from taking place because of supposed concerns that the event was to be held at a Las Vegas casino property.
What was their early-June reasoning, and why was it timed just so when I know for a fact the league knew about the NFFC plans months before (and even had employees with signed agreements to participate)? The official reason given by the league is related to the fact that the NFFC was to be staged on the property of a Las Vegas casino -- thus, the "gambling'' argument was used.
Weird, though. And hypocritical, because the NFL teams have about two dozen partnerships with state lotteries, the NFL has one team planning to stage its training camp adjacent to a casino, has another team negotiating to move to Las Vegas where it would be in partnership with a casino, has cut deals with Draft Kings and Fan Duel to sponsor the league (with some of the owners as investors in the compnanies!) and obvously already benefits from the $3 billion industry that is Fantasy Football.
Oh, and now one more blow against the NFL that Romo's side can wield like Rob Gronkowski wields like yet another beer bottle: The Gronk "Booze Cruise,'' which I'm told sailed on with the NFL's knowledge and approval and naturally included all the debauchery you might imagine -- in theory, worst of all, given the NFL's stance against Romo's group -- was held on a casino cruise.
I'm told that among the arguments that will be made by the NFFC’s side include the league’s double-standard when it comes to such affiliations. .A source tells me that Romo’s side plans to petition Judge Carl Ginsberg via the court in Dallas to include those sort of specifics in his ruling.
Ultimately, the NFFC would like to call NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to the stand, which as I said on 105.3 The Fan, "Would at the very least bring attention to the dispute in a way that might be almost as fun as Gronk’s party.''
Full disclosure is merited here, once again, as I first wrote last June when breaking yet another chapter of this outlandish story: I was invited to cover last year's event and am planning to attend this summer's NFFC get-together in Los Angeles. So I have a personal and professional stake in this. Romo, as I've noted before, is obliged to be more politically correct. And was so, in politely releasing the initial news last June:
Dez Bryant, among the 100 or so NFL stars invited to participate in this first-of-its-kind event, during which fans would mix and mingle and party -- oh yeah, and talk Fantasy Football -- with pro athletes -- was less politically correct, and likely spoke for the many NFL guys who'd agree to participate, including Jason Witten, and Jamaal Charles, Antonio Brown, DeMarco Murray, T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy, Julio Jones and DeMarcus Ware:
And now even more NFL players see the double-standard and the hypocrisy, not just through the prism of Romo's business but through a racial one. To wit:
The NFL's original intention was to manipulatively and deviously crush and then, ultimately, steal the ideas and work of Romo's group. The NFFC is seeking potentially millions in damages, will now be able to use Gronk's party as evidence, and eventually wishes for a court date featuring NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the witness stand in front of a jury ... where his history under public fire suggests he might not handle himself in an exceedingly smooth manner.