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NFL Investigatating Vegas Arm Wrestling Tournament Involving James Harrison, Marshawn Lynch and other NFL Stars

Yahoo — It used to be easier for the NFL to take a hard stance against everything Las Vegas.

When the NFL pressured Tony Romo to cancel a fantasy football event in Las Vegas in 2015 because it was going to be at a convention center attached to a casino, it was silly (the silliest instance of the NFL’s anti-gambling policy in action), but those were the rules. Players aren’t allowed to take part in promotional events at casinos.

That line has been blurred in a big way, with the NFL allowing the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas. That makes their upcoming decision on a few players who participated in an arm wrestling tournament at MGM Grand in Las Vegas very interesting. ESPN and USA Today reported that Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, Oakland Raiders punter Marquette King, Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards and New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung participated in the tournament April 5-9. Without seeing any of the results, we’ll assume Harrison won. The event is scheduled to air on late May and early June on CBS.

So we all remember this incident from 2015. Tony Romo was hosting a fantasy football-related event in Vegas, and although the event had nothing to do with gambling, it was ultimately cancelled by the league. The event was being held at a convention center that was in a close enough vicinity to a casino to warrant some interest from the league, and ultimately the event was shut down. Romo is planning on giving the event another shot, and even though he has since retired from the league, that may not even make a difference (see: Marshawn Lynch above).

Now, it definitely makes sense to a certain point for the NFL to want to completely distance itself from casinos and gambling. We’ve already seen people, from athletes (#FreePeteRose) to officials, have their careers tarnished by connections to gambling, and it’s not a bad idea for the NFL to try to avoid this institution at all costs. Of course, this was all BRMLV: Before the Raiders Moved to Las Vegas.

When the Oakland Raiders officially become the Las Vegas Raiders after next season, they’ll be playing their home games within miles of slot machines, blackjack tables, and, of course, sports gambling parlors. The NFL has yet to truly address this connection, but will predictably avoid the question for the foreseeable future — believe it or not, that’s a skill Roger Goodell has had a lot of practice in. But the question now arises of if the NFL is going to need to restructure their Vegas-based rules with one of their most popular — and controversial — franchises heading to Sin City.

The ruling in this instance is going to be very telling of what the NFL’s intentions will be moving forward. After all, check out that list of players – that’s a LOT of dudes, and all pretty popular. That’s a combined 18 Pro Bowl appearances between those 8 players, so what’re you gonna do — suspend them all? Give them all 4 games? For sure not, that’d make the exact type of headlines that Goodell needs to avoid making if he wants to keep his job after the shit he’s pulled the past few years.

I can’t see the NFL really doing anything too harsh about this – maybe just a fine – but I guess we’ll see. Stranger things have happened (see: DeflateGate, Ray Rice, Greg Hardy…) But ultimately, one thing’s for sure: the NFL will not be able to deny their Vegas connection for much longer.

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