National Football League fumbles another issue

June 17, 2015 9:32 AM


National Football League fumbles another issueThe National Football League poured gasoline and then lit the fire under a familiar issue several days ago when it told several of its players they cannot participate in a fantasy football event scheduled in July at a Las Vegas casino.

There is no way that the league was going to earn points with fans on this issue and the issue will flare up again and again until NFL strategists come up with a game plan that recognizes the reality of legal sport betting’s impact.

The convention has since been cancelled and one of the NFL stars barred from attending, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo wasted no time labeling the league “greedy and selfish.”

The New York Times responded to this emotional issue with a feature that story that carried the headline, “NFL’s unsteady stance on a tricky gambling landscape.”

So was the NFL simply defending a brand on which it has lavished a ton of marketing efforts or was it being mean spirited and greedy?

There is evidence to support either position.

One of the consequences of the NFL’s action was that every sports columnist with a column to write this week suddenly recognized an easy opportunity for a story that football fans would read.

The NFL has already embraced fantasy football but only if the program or promotion carries an NFL label. It does not take kindly to efforts by other business entities to monetize its brand as Nevada sports books did years ago.

The League’s opposition to Nevada’s successful efforts to create a big business on the broad back of its brand led to a crackdown on Super Bowl parties several years ago.

Bo Brownstein, the founder of the Fantasy Sports Combine which is scheduled to hold its own event in Las Vegas this summer, was quoted by the Times saying, “It’s not a popular position but they are protecting a major business.”

On the other hand, a Las Vegas executive who was less charitable said, “This issue would go away in the blink of an eye if the two sides could find a way to share in the revenue generated by Nevada’s sports betting.”

Las Vegans such as Station Casinos Vice President of Sports Race Betting Art Manteris roll their eyes at what they see as the NFL’s dishonesty on the subject. Manteris and others note that the League has no problem with the annual promotion of games in London, “a city that has a betting shop on every other corner.”

Yes, the issue continues to smolder.

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