Tony Romo was excited about an event he was organizing with the National Fantasy Football Convention that would have allowed NFL players some time for fellowship off the field and the ability to meet fans in a setting that isn’t often available.
Romo and the National Fantasy Football Convention scheduled an event at the Sans Expo in Las Vegas in early July that would have been a gathering of players, fantasy football experts and fans. The NFL knew about the event for about eight months, according to a source, but waited until recently to voice its opposition, causing a hasty cancellation of the event last Friday.
Romo said he got the sense early that the NFL didn’t have an issue with the event “when it first started.” And then …
“They waited until a month before (the event). That obviously doesn’t sit very well for a lot of the players and fans,” Romo said during an interview Tuesday with ESPN Radio. “That’s the disappointing part about it right now.”
Romo said the NFL never called him, his agency or the NFFC to voice its opposition. Instead, it called the NFLPA, saying players that attended the event could be fined or suspended because it was scheduled at an event center that was associated with a casino. However, the Sans Expo doesn’t have a gaming license.
“I think when that when that takes place, you understand the NFL is trying to not necessarily cancel the event, I think more than that they were trying to probably persuade people not to attend the event,” Romo said. “It’s like when you’re in high school and you don’t get invited to the party, it makes you feel bad. I think if they really wanted to be a part of it, all they had to do was call and ask. … There’s big money involved sometimes from the NFL’s perspective. If we would have known about the issue of the event at the place or we thought that was something that could have been an issue, the NFL could have told us about that right away.”
Romo indicated that if the NFL had raised its concerns earlier, event organizers could have moved the location. Instead, the timing of it caused the NFFC to cancel the event on Friday, a little more than a month ahead of when it was scheduled to take place. Next year’s event is being planned for Los Angeles.
The NFL Players Association is aware of the NFL’s opposition, but it hasn’t issued a statement on it yet after receiving a call from the NFL last week about it.
“The Players Association had received a call expressing the fining or the suspending of the players and we didn’t quite understand what the NFL was doing since they had yet to call us or call me, who was putting on the event, or my agency,” Romo said. “It reeked of maybe a scare tactic with the players and trying to get us this late in the game to have no players attend the event.
“… The NFL could have handled it in far, far better ways and there would have been a lot of issues that could have been resolved with the venue change or just wanting to be a part of it. There’s 10 different ways to handle it and that part of it made it very frustrating for the people involved.”
Romo said he didn’t believe that contacting the NFL or commissioner Roger Goodell directly would do any good at this point, but when asked what the relationship between the players and the league is right now, Romo said it wasn’t a good week to pose that question to him.
“I don’t know that I want to be overwhelmingly positive at the moment,” he said.
He said he believes the NFL will be “very disappointed” with how they handled the issue when they look back on it.
“I do know there’s plenty of cases that the more information that you get, as far as people bring up, make it a little silly and that makes you think it’s sometimes about money,” Romo said. “I know the Detroit Lions just signed with club (seating) in their field level, they just signed a deal with the MGM Grand. I got this e-mail that talks about how no players or the NFL are to be associated and I’m like, well, that doesn’t really make sense. There’s just far too many cases, it does make it sound sometimes like it’s an issue about money, which is disappointing. We’re just trying to get the fans to hang out with players.”
He said there aren’t many opportunities for players to spend time with players on other teams and enjoy their company off the field. More than 100 current and former players were scheduled to attend the event.
Romo said it’s been “overwhelming” talking and texting with players about the event since it was cancelled on Friday.
“I didn’t think it was going to break the NFL’s heart money-wise, but obviously they had an issue,” Romo said.
“… It was about almost scaring the people attending the event. That just seems silly to me, that we couldn’t be far more mature about this. That makes you think it’s just about money and that’s disappointing.”
Romo believes NFL’s action ‘just about money’
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