Time for the NFL to loosen up on Vegas

July 21, 2015 3:04 AM


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on the Fantasy Sports Combine read Daniel Dobish online at www.gamingtoday.com.

If there is anything more delusional than Tiger Woods and his ‘I’m close” golf game, it’s the NFL’s treatment of the inaugural Fantasy Sports Combine at Wynn Las Vegas.

Tony Romo was not allowed to be here but Kyle Orton, his one-time backup in Dallas, was. And so was WR Brandon Stokley. So was past Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart. And so was past Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan and past SB MVP Terrell Davis.

And Adam Schefter, who lives to break NFL stories daily, was part of numerous panels during the day-long excursion into fantasy football excellence at Wynn. So was Matthew Berry, ESPN’s senior fantasy sports analyst.

Peyton Manning couldn’t be here, but his autographed No. 18 orange Broncos jersey was and gladly won in a raffle during the opening ceremonies held in a stadium setting with overhead TV screens all around.

Steve Wynn gave this event red carpet treatment with continental breakfast, lunch, after parties. Heck, even ping pong was part of the proceedings.

So take that Roger Goodell and stick it with your “Don’t say Super Bowl” stance that Las Vegas sportsbooks must adhere to,

There was so much to absorb during the Combine that one article won’t do it justice. So in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 3 kickoff, we’ll pass along helpful hints to what looks like the future of gambling in Las Vegas books.

Yes, NFL, you can believe DraftKings and any other fantasy site is not gambling. Like Tiger, you’re missing the cut.

Noteworthy is that a day before the Combine, it was announced in New Jersey that according to statistics available through the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) website the estimated number of fantasy sports players has grown from 12.6 million to 56.8 million in the last 10 years.

Guests at Wynn who didn’t earn free trips here for winning Fantasy contests across the country, paid $899 for a seat in the huge multiple ballrooms used to host the event. This was fantasy football’s equivalent to the Westgate SuperContest sports betting seminar that has become a growing national rite of passage in late August.

Football betting has advanced far beyond 11-to-10 and parlay cards. The NFL can endorse Madden or EA Sports video games and DraftKings ads are shoved down our throat, yet nary a word on the Combine from ESPN, the worldwide leader that savors Monday Night Football.

Peter Jennings, a fantasy sports expert who has won close to $20 million in his career, was here for the event. Why shouldn’t he be? Anyone still calling these dedicated folks “fantasy geeks” looks like a nerd now.

Contest winners I spoke with came here from Chicago, Seattle and points beyond for the best information on the planet for fantasy football. It’s bigtime stuff and a marketing bonanza the NFL kicked wide right.

At least publicly. Privately they’re doing cartwheels.

And another stereotype erased – women are as rabid as men in their endless pursuit of information. Bonnie Bernstein, once on ESPN and now at CBS Sports, hosted one of the panel discussions. Liz Loza, Yahoo contributor and recognized as the most respected fantasy sports expert in the blogosphere, was a panelist.

I think you get the point. The Combine at Wynn was certainly better than the one the NFL annually runs in Indianapolis. Maybe Goodell will one day let the NFL Network cover it. Until then, eat your heart out.

Encore: Schefter broke what could be major news if proven out during his talking points. “My guess is Tom Brady has a real chance not to miss any games this season. Brady can take his four-game suspension (or less) to court and a judge can grant an injunction. The appeals process would last all through the season and I don’t know if the charges would hold up in court.” Also, FSC II returns to Wynn on July 22-23, 2016.

Next week: Schefter and Berry on their fantasy football views, key player evaluations/draft strategy.

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at MarkMayer@GamingToday.com

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