Tony Romo’s Attorneys Fire Back at NFL

     DALLAS (CN) – Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo treated ticketholders to his canceled fantasy football expo to free drinks and autographs as his company’s attorneys called the NFL a “corporate thug” for threatening players who attend.
     Romo’s company, The Fan Expo LLC, sued the NFL in Dallas County Court on Tuesday, over The National Fantasy Football Convention at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas that was scheduled for this month.
     The lawsuit claims the NFL supported the event at first, then told players and league employees they could not participate because the venue violates the league’s gambling policy, resulting in its cancellation.
     To make it up to the fans, Romo hosted 200 ticketholders at Fizz Las Vegas Champagne Bar at Caesars Palace for free drinks and an autographed poster. Romo was not there, but chatted with fans through FaceTime.
     Romo has not commented on the lawsuit, but his company’s attorneys blasted the league’s alleged concerns about gambling on Thursday.
     “For the record: at no time was any part of the family-friendly National Fantasy Football Convention to be held on casino grounds, and the NFFC was not in any way involved nor endorsing adjacent gaming facilities in any capacity,” the attorneys said in a statement.
     “The convention, originally scheduled July 10-12, 2015, was preparing to host over 100 current and former NFL players and personalities across three days of stage events, sessions, autograph and photo ops, exhibits, drafts, fan-led Q&As, and more.”
     Attorney Julie Pettit, in Dallas, said the league’s “bullying tactics” against players amounts to tortious interference.
     “The NFL knew the event was not in violation of the NFL gambling policy, yet after expressly supporting the NFFC, the NFL then threatened to suspend NFL players if they complied with their NFFC appearance contracts,” Pettit said. “After conducting a thorough investigation, we have determined that the NFL should held accountable for its hypocrisy and harassment.”
     Michael K. Hurst, with Gruber Hurst in Dallas, said the league is acting “against the best interest of the fans” and tarnishing the NFL image.
     “The NFL is once again acting like a corporate thug, initiating a campaign to intimidate players away from this event because of its potential for success and in order to kill or control any profits,” Hurst said.
     More than 100 players were to attend the convention, including Romo, Odell Beckham Jr., Rob Gronkowski, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Le’Veon Bell, Jeremy Maclin, Jamaal Charles, DeMarco Murray, Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Lacy, Randall Cobb and Antonio Brown.
     “This is nothing more than the latest in a long history of disreputable actions and behavior presented by the League,” the attorneys said. “From an iron-fisted approach to player conduct rarely reflective of the league’s own lack of self-discipline, to annual season ticket price hikes, the NFL continues to show little regard for the opinions and value of its players and fans.
     “The NFFC intends to provide an unforgettable experience for fans and players alike, entirely independent of the NFL’s long shadow and dominating influence. While we’re extremely disappointed that their recent actions caused our postponement, we’re thrilled by the opportunities awaiting everyone next summer in Southern California, and we cannot wait to share more insights into the 2016 National Fantasy Football Convention with fans nationwide.”
     In its lawsuit, Fan Expo accuses the league of hypocritical, selective enforcement of its gambling policy, which it “flagrantly and systematically” violates on occasions when it stands to “get a piece of the pie” financially.
     Fan Expo pointed out that the Detroit Lions in May announced a partnership with the MGM Grand Detroit, a casino-hotel with slot machines, gaming tables and poker rooms. It also said New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty has hosted a casino night and that his teammate tight end Gronkowski is hosting a party cruise in February on a cruise ship outfitted with a casino.
     The Fan Expo seeks actual damages and punitive damages for tortious interference with contract (with the players), tortious interference with prospective business relationships, and costs.

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