NFL Flexes Muscles Over Players’ Arm Wrestling Contest at MGM Grand

Posted on: April 10, 2017, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: April 10, 2017, 12:53h.

The NFL may have sanctioned the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas but that doesn’t mean it’s happy for its players to hang out in casinos, even for arm-wrestling contests.

Jamon Brown and Howard Jones at the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship at the MGM Grand
LA Rams’ Jamon Brown squares off against Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Howard Jones at the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship at the MGM Grand but are they about to get strong-armed by the NFL for engaging in casino promotional activities? (Image: AP)

Over 30 players, including Maurkice Pouncey, Mychal Kendricks, Navarro Bowman, Kenny Stills, and Marquette King, may find themselves in hot water for competing in the inaugural “Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship” at the MGM Grand over the weekend.  

The event was co-hosted by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison and former running back Marshawn Lynch, a made-for-TV deal that is set to be broadcast on CBS on May 27–28.

But according to NFL policy, players are not permitted to “promote casino activities,” which includes attending casinos as part of promotional events, unless they seek pre-approval, which, according to the NFL, is what everyone apparently forgot to do.

“Had we been asked in advance if this was acceptable, we would have indicated that it was in direct violation of the gambling policy,” Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s VP for communications and public affairs, told USA TODAY Sports. “No one sought pre-approval.”

Gambling Machines Were Switched Off

But event organizer Alan Brickman, co-owner of the California-based company, Encinal Entertainment, claims the NFL was aware of the contest as he had been on contact with the league in January when he attempted to strike a partnership deal for the contest.   

Brickman said that while no deal was agreed the league had suggested guidelines for the contests, which included a ban on showing gambling-related activities or alcohol during the broadcast. As a result of these suggestions, all gambling machines within the vicinity of the event were unplugged.

Perhaps players assumed that since the Raiders’ Vegas move had been approved, the league had gone soft on its anti-casino policy. Not so, but it does beg the question, what’s it going to be like when the Raiders actually begin playing in the city if the league is freaking out about a charity arm-wrestling contest?   

Romo Incident

In 2015, the NFL barred Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo, and others, from attending a fantasy football convention because it was to be held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. This, despite there being no opportunity to gamble at the center.

A source connected with the convention told FOX Sports that NFL representatives were calling players and even the parents of some players threatening suspensions for attending.