Ezekiel Elliott: At the end of the day we are going to be the Dallas Cowboys
How does that old hair club commercial go?
“I’m not just the president, I am a client.”
In keeping with that theme, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is not just the headlining attraction of the 2018 National Fantasy Football Convention, he’s also a part owner of this ultimate football fan showcase which will bring more than 200 players and personalities to the Will Rogers Memorial Center Saturday and Sunday.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo remains a part owner, along with Elliott, Executive Director Andy Alberth and business partner Mark Hulme, but he is no longer the face of the convention.
And Romo is not needed. He will be in Lake Tahoe playing in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship as he was last year at this time.
It’s Elliott who will be headlining this weekend after being one of 50 player participants during the inaugural convention last summer.
According to Alberth, Elliott saw the vision of the event and wanted to be part of it as an owner, starting with an NFFC football camp with several other Cowboys in Mexico in April.
It’s was all a buildup to what is taking place in Fort Worth this weekend, a Comic-Con for football fans, as Alberth likes to call it.
“It’s more than doubled from where it was last year,” Alberth said. “The players are excited. The fans are excited. It’s Disneyland for fans of all ages. You can buy a ticket to a football game, leave and never meet a player. Here you can do so much more. You can reach out and touch players. There is no better way for fans to interact and engage with their favorite players.”
Last year there were 50 players at the inaugural NFFC, held at Fair Park in Dallas. It was mostly filled with Cowboys players and retired NFL stars. Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson, the league’s No. 1 ranked fantasy football player, was the biggest visiting name.
But the word of mouth, Elliott’s backing, as well as Alberth’s incessant phone calls, has this year’s convention bursting at the seams.
Elliott will be joined by fellow running back stars Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams, Melvin Gordon the Los Angeles Chargers and Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs as well as Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Former Cowboys Dez Bryant is also scheduled to make an appearance as are fellow members of the “88” club, Hall of Famer Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson.
The list of former stars includes Charles Haley, Thurman Thomas, Michael Vick, Vince Young, Jimmy Smith, Simeon Rice, Larry Centers, and Everson Walls.
Among the rookie stars are: Ronald Jones, Christian Kirk, Courtland Sutton, Michael Gallup and Malik Jefferson.
The convention features a series of events, exhibits, performances, and parties. Fans can throw around the pigskin with active NFL players, former players and Hall-of-Famers while learning draft strategies from nationally known fantasy football gurus.
This year’s convention will also include the first-ever Taste of Texas food show and the unveiling of the inaugural class of the official Fantasy Football Hall of Fame.
All five branches of the military will be present and service members, along with local high school students, will escort the players throughout the event.
The NFFC will be surprising two veterans of the armed forces with new homes and up to 10 others with therapeutic service dogs.
Alberth has plans for it to be even bigger next year with more than 300 players and personalities.
Sounds like a lofty goal but consider where the NFFC is now after the NFL did it all could to shut the event done the first two years.
It was initially set for Las Vegas in 2016 and then was set to be in Pasadena, Calif., in 2016.
But threats of sanctions against the players for making an appearance, including Romo, and battles in federal court scuttled the first two.
But that was then.
There is no stopping the convention now.
Not with Elliott aboard and Alberth running the show.
“What began as a convention focused on fantasy football has become something so much greater,” Alberth said. "The NFFC is now a genuine celebration of America’s favorite sport… Football is a way of life down here and the energy and passion fans bring for the game is infectious. We’re thrilled to bring that spirit to fans all over the country.”