Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo Rights NFL’s Wrong

One of the obvious perks of being a sports journalist is that we have the privilege of interacting with some of the greatest athletes in the world. Covering sporting events up close and personal, walking locker rooms before and after games, and watching men and women go through struggles and victories first-hand is an experience like non other. We are a blessed few, those of us who have the job of communicating the thrill and emotion of professional sports to the fans.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo understands most people do not get to witness what sports journalists see, so he created the first ever National Fantasy Football Convention, or NFFC for short. When I first learned about the NFFC, even as a media guy, I was interested and immediately signed up for the “MVP Package.” Rarely is there an opportunity where so many current NFL players from all different teams are going to be in the same location and available. The idea behind the National Fantasy Football Convention in Romo’s words via a released statement in March was allowing NFL fans to “finally have the chance to interact with all their favorite players and experts.”

The Official NFL Twitter Account Tweets "Hi Tony" to Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo on June 9, 2015.

The Official NFL Twitter Account Tweets “Hi Tony” to Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo on June 9, 2015.

Romo understands how rare it is for an individual to get up close and personal with NFL players. It’s a precious thing to see an NFL player, let alone be able to talk to them. Most individuals remember those special interactions for the rest of their lives. The National Fantasy Football Convention was a forum to bring all fans, not just Dallas Cowboys fans, and over 100 NFL players together in an unprecedented setting. So, as a fantasy football player I was looking forward to the event, and was truly disappointed this past week when the NFL stepped in to shut the NFFC down.

I am not going to lambast the NFL over their decision to threaten the players attending the NFFC with fines and suspension thus closing the event. I will let the court of public opinion be the judge on the NFL’s actions, but I will comment on the jab the league took at Tony Romo with their tweet via the official @NFL account. Romo told Colin Cowherd, “If they (NFL) really wanted to just be a part of it, all they had to do was just call and ask.” So, the NFL responded to Romo’s comments by mocking him with their “Hi Tony” tweet.

The league’s message via Twitter was in poor taste and its one of the few times I have been truly disappointed in the NFL. Obviously the league realized the tweet was in poor taste because they deleted it within minutes of posting it. The NFL’s actions of course cost Tony and the NFFC organizers money by the mere fact that they have to go through the process of refunding tickets sold and canceling hotel rooms, so to mock him in my opinion was a step too far.

But here’s the thing, while Romo and the organizers were adversely affected by the NFL’s decision, it’s really the fans that pay the dearest for the cancellation. I’ve read stories of military men who planned their leave around the NFFC. I know personally of individuals who scheduled time off from their work to go to Las Vegas for the convention. The NFL’s tweet sends the message that the fans that were negatively impacted by the cancellation do not matter, and that it’s all just a laughing matter.

So, there I sat stewing in disappointment from a professional standpoint because of the missed chance for so many great interviews, as well as the cancellation of the Drew Pearson Live show that we were going to film in Vegas that weekend. But, as a fan of the NFL and fantasy football, I was also heartbroken to miss the opportunity to witness something that had never happened before. Imagine my surprise, however, when I received an email from the National Fantasy Football Convention on Thursday night. The email in full is as follows:

National Fantasy Football Convention MVP Package Refund Email nffc mvp-2

In one move, what Tony Romo and the NFFC team led by Executive Director Andy Alberth accomplished with the communication was to reassure fans that their money will be refunded, and that as an MVP Package holder, they are going to reward their early decisions to attend next year’s convention planned for Southern California with additional benefits including a personally signed football from Tony Romo himself. Tony could have easily decided to blame the NFL, made it difficult for fans to get refunds, and then walked away in the clear. But, as he has done so often in his professional football career, Romo evaluated the adversity thrown at him, and turned it into a positive. Tony isn’t accepting the blame by any means with his email. But, what Romo’s actions in my opinion say is that the fans matter to him, and he is going to take the time to give the masses a piece of himself via autographed footballs. It’s an incredibly classy move by Romo and the NFFC team, and you can’t help but like the guy for caring about what all the NFL fans who looked forward to the canceled convention feel. Bravo Tony!

Follow Matt Thornton on Twitter and Instagram: @MattThorntonNFL