If Rob Gronkowski can host a party cruise on a ship that features a casino at sea, why can’t Tony Romo host a fantasy football convention on Las Vegas property owned by a casino?
That’s a question Romo’s lawyers posed at a hearing on the NFL’s motion for summary judgment Monday in a Texas court, according to a petition obtained by Pro Football Talk. One paragraph specifically mentions the New England Patriots tight end’s floating fiesta, which ended safely and without (serious) incident Monday.
“NFL player Rob Gronkowski hosted a party cruise from Miami to the Bahamas on February 19-22, 2016,” the petition states. “The four-day party took place on Norwegian Cruise Line, where Gronkowski’s fans and attendees can take full advantage of Norweigan’s famed ‘Casinos at Sea.’ Photos from the booze-cruise show fans gambling at the on-board casino. The NFL specifically knew about the party cruise and its ties to gambling for more than seven months leading up to the event; yet the NFL took no action to either discipline Rob Gronkowski or prevent the event from taking place.”
The lawsuit by Romo’s National Fantasy Football Convention concerns the NFL’s decision to shut down the convention, scheduled for last July, by forcing players and NFL media members who had committed to it to cancel. The NFL did so by reminding the NFL Players Association of its gambling policy and organizers told the Associated Press at the time that the cancellation was a “direct result of sudden and unexpected opposition taken by the NFL concerning player participation and their perceived association with gambling for an event in Las Vegas.”
Dez Bryant, Romo’s teammate, was furious about the cancellation of the event, tweeting: “@Tony Romo put that event together for the fans. Geniuses [expletive].” And “Don’t understand whenever they make [expletive] loads of money off of us. SMH.”
This isn’t the first time a complaint about a double standard has applied to Gronk’s partying ways. His mother says no one works harder and is more serious about football than her son, but the New York Giants’ Victor Cruz sees Gronk’s twerking, dancing ways as a marketing ploy, as part of his brand.
“I mean Gronk is kind of labeled as that guy that likes to have fun and party and things like that,” he told USA Today’s For the Win. “And you know that because he’s open about it and doesn’t hide it, but if it was someone like Odell [Beckham Jr.] or Cam [Newton] to do it, it would just be talked about a little bit more than when Gronk does it because you expect that from Gronk and you don’t expect that from Odell or Cam.
“So there’s just a double standard there due to their personalities and how they are. But I think either one is cool. At the end of the day, you have to live your life. You can’t just be behind a tinted window the whole time and not be able to do what you want to do. I think there’s a little bit of a double standard, but at the end of the day do what you want.”
Cruz’s comments came after NFL players Prince Amukamara and Charles James II had a brief but spirited discussion on the topic on Twitter.
Last summer, when the event was canceled, the NFL’s Twitter account managers briefly trolled Romo over the matter before deleting their tweet and Romo, in a radio interview, pointed to a double standard of a different sort. For instance, the MGM Grand Detroit and the Detroit Lions have an agreement for a field-level club area being added to Ford Field.
“They talk about how no players or NFL personnel are to be associated [with casinos], well, I’m like, that doesn’t really make sense,” Romo said then on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “There’s just far too many cases and it does make it sound sometimes that it’s an issue about money, which is disappointing because we were just trying to get the fans to hang out with players.”
The timing of the NFL’s decision, which came close to the event, angered Romo, too.
“We would have changed venues a long time ago if we thought it was a problem,” Romo said. “It makes you think that they actually didn’t want the event to be a success. That was really what it ends up feeling like. They wanted to wait until it got close enough and then take all the players and tell them that they’re going to be suspended or fined. That way no one attends and the event just fails. I think that was the general process they were going for.
“[Another] disappointing thing is they got the NFLPA [the players’ union] involved to kind of do their dirty work for them. They had the NFLPA call a lot of these players. I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t have called me, who is the host of the event, or the actual event organizers, to tell us that in the process we could have taken steps to ensure that the fans and the players still get to meet and hang out.
“It just seems very immature when you look at how the whole process went down. There’s plenty of easier ways to handle it. I’m just disappointed that there are so many people who have already paid for this event and have already signed up for hotels and flights and they can’t change all that back.”
So 700 of Gronk’s fans can go on a cruise on which gambling is taking place, but Romo is out of luck.