A bunch of NFL players could get fined for appearing at Vegas arm wrestling contest

The NFL is moving to Las Vegas once the Raiders wrap up the whole pesky “building a stadium” thing and head for the desert in 2020. It will probably test the league’s policy on gambling, but it’s also casting an interesting light on the current setup in Vegas.

For instance, the league’s policy prohibits players from appearing at casinos for any sort of promotional purpose (even not relating to the casino). That policy will be tested this weekend because, as Jarrett Bell of USA Today reported, there are a large group of NFL players in Vegas for the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship.

And those players are, according to NFL, “in direct violation” of the league’s gambling policy. 

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

The event, which will air on CBS Sports Network in late May (find your channel here and set your DVR) will feature a number of different notable NFL players, including Steelers linebacker and Roger Goodell Fan Club President James Harrison

Also involved is currently retired Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who is interested in returning to football and playing for the Raiders. According to USA Today, Harrison and Lynch are the two coaches of the teams involved. 

Additional names who are participating, per USA Today, include: Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, Raiders punter Marquette King and defensive end Mario Edwards, and New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung.

This feels a lot like the fantasy football convention staged by former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who retired to join CBS Sports as an NFL broadcaster, that got shut down because it was going to happen at a casino.

The NFL shutting down that event didn’t sit well with players back in 2015 and with the league actually moving a team to Las Vegas, the idea of it refusing to allow players to earn additional money because they’re standing in a casino probably won’t sit well either.

Alan Brickman, who is a co-owner of Encinal Entertainment and helping to stage the event, told USA Today that the company did in fact check with the league and several months ago they “engaged with two different departments within the league and tried to strike a deal to include the NFL as a partner with the event.”

The NFL didn’t want to do that, unsurprisingly, but Brickman says he was led to believe turning off the power on any machines in the nearby area would keep the event within compliance. 

However it appears that the players, who will be donating half of the $100,000 prize money to charity, may be hearing from the league about their participation, in a less than friendly manner. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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