Why I Still Trust the NFBC
I had a minor inkling something was off yesterday because I DM’d Darik Buchar about setting up the first Beat Chris Liss league, and he told me to contact Tom Kessenich. That was odd because I always went through Darik, and he didn’t explain why. Today his Twitter account is gone, so I assume he was the employee in on the cheating, though hopefully we’ll hear from him at some point exactly what happened and the extent of it. (I considered the guy a friend, and I’m sorry to hear he put himself and especially the NFFC in this position.)
But I’m far more sorry for my good friend Greg Ambrosius who built the NFFC/NFBC from scratch and has to deal with the fallout from this. And also Tom who was there with him from the outset. You can read Greg’s statement about the incident here.
I’m posting about it because I’ve been a frequent competitor in, fan of and promoter of these contests for more than a decade, so I have some responsibility too*.
*Full disclosure, they’ve comped me entries the entire time, though now that I’m no longer with RotoWire, I’ve paid full freight for all the high stakes (Main Event, Primetime) contests, as well as some smaller ones like the NFBKC and the very playoff contest where the cheating occurred.
So it’s fair to note I have a conflict of interest in writing about this scandal, both due to the comps I receive and my friendships with Greg and Tom. That said, I’m going to give my perspective, and you can take it with as much or as little salt as you choose.
I’ve known Greg for more than 20 years. We did business with him at RotoWire, either via the NFBC/NFFC or, prior to that, our baseball and football magazines every year. The guy was a rock — never did we have an issue getting paid for anything we did, and there was no bullshit or attitude. And this was the case even early on, when RotoWire was a tiny company and not nearly as plugged into the fantasy sports ecosystem as it is now.
As a competitor in the contests I never worried about collecting my winnings, or that the payment wouldn’t be prompt, that I’d have to chase it down. It was always there in my account a couple days after the season. And I’ve hung out with and had beers with Greg many times — he’s a goofy, straightforward guy, the opposite of shady or devious.
Maybe we’ll find out yet he has some corpses in his closet or was on Epstein’s plane — no one knows anything for sure. But I trust him and imagine learning about this is crushing to him, as he’s built the business on its reputation for trust and integrity.
. . .
The other problem with a cheating scandal like this is it opens a can of worms about past contests — how can we know this was the first and only time this happened? I don’t envy these guys in having to investigate this or to figure out the appropriate remedies should they discover other instances. If I were them, I’d tell Darik to come clean in exchange for a more lenient stance toward him with respect to any potential criminal proceedings and just get to the bottom of it entirely.
The good thing about the scandal happening in this contest (rather than say an NFBC one) is what one team does doesn’t really affect the scoring or standing of other teams. You can delete those teams, and the contest plays out as it would. (Which is good for me since I’m drawing live with 3x Mahomes, Lamar, McCaffrey and Amon-Ra this week.)
Of course, as I said, we don’t know for sure what other contests were affected. I suspect if they find there were MLB contests affected in the past, they’d just pay out the teams who were out of the money by one spot due to any cheating entry, even though that’s an imperfect solution. But they’ll have to figure it out should it come to that.
Personally, I’m still playing in the contests this year, and I will pay for the Main Event as usual. I trust them to be on guard against this, I imagine they are crushed by it and that they’ll take it very seriously.
My two cents. As I said, take it with a grain of salt, as I’m not impartial.