Remembering the Time the NFL Weirdly Banned Three Dolphins From Playing Poker

We all like to be able to do our own thing when we’re not at work, right? Well, it wasn’t that long ago that the people in power at the NFL put a halt to three former Dolphins doing just that.

For those who don’t recall, AJ Francis, now of the WWE of course, Jason Fox and Jordan Cameron were all preparing to play in a poker tournament in Seminole County’s Casino Coconut Creek. The three players were making celebrity appearances and used as bounty for players who were entering aiming to get a piece of a guaranteed $20,000 prize pool.

Visiting poker players were getting an extra incentive; there would be a cash bonus from organizers if they were to eliminate one of the NFL stars. Now there’s not much wrong with that you would have thought. But ahead of the tournament getting underway, officials at the NFL’s midtown New York base decided that it was to go against their gambling rules for players and prohibited Francis, Fox, and Cameron from taking part.

It wasn’t to be the only time that the NFL has stopped outside interest too. Tony Romo who was once listed as a possible target for the Dolphins, saw a fantasy football convention where he was to be the main attraction, canceled. It wasn’t to be held in a casino, it wasn’t near any slot machines, but nope. It wasn’t happening according to the NFL, although many teams were partnering with fantasy football wagering websites.

Although it only took place some six years ago it’s fair to say that the attitudes towards gambling and poker, in general, have changed from the authorities in the game. They didn’t punish the then Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins, now of the Ravens, when he posted his poker winnings on social media within a year of the Dolphin trio being banned. Watkins even skipped team workouts to head over to North Carolina and sit at the casino. That incident occurred within a year of the Dolphins trio of players who didn’t even touch the table!

There are a few clear indications now however that the NFL is definitely loosening their grip on gambling as betting lounges are now allowed in stadiums. But that’s not the only thing.

Football’s governing body has also embraced the companies themselves with the announcement earlier this year that they had recently partnered with a host of gambling companies for an eye-watering amount of money who also operate gambling online. The list of states allowing online poker is slowly but surely expanding and it seems that nowadays, gambling has a higher profile and less nefarious image to some. After all, if it was so troublesome to the NFL, they wouldn’t want to welcome them in as a partner, would they?

All in all taking things into consideration, looking back to 2015 if you were to stand from the outside looking in. The authorities looked more than a little bit jealous of Francis, Fox, and Cameron. They weren’t getting a slice of the pie so THAT is why they pulled the plug, Romo even said as much. But pulling a poker tournament where it has nothing to do with football whatsoever, and it wasn’t bringing the player’s commitment and integrity into question. It was the off-season! That just wasn’t right.