Nearly 100% of people who fall victim to a scam did not know that they were being scammed during the scam. It is just how scams work. Scams come in all shapes and sizes…from Milli Vanilli to Enron to FYRE Festival to Texas Ultimate Flag Football (TUFF). A target audience (whether it be the young and impressionable, or the wealthy and ignorant) is selected, and the scam artist tells them exactly what they want to hear. The scam artist then assigns a “too-good-to-be-true” price with a “hurry-and-act-now” time table. You see, when people are given information, time, and transparency, they can make their decisions in a cogent, safe manner. The scam artist seeks to give misinformation, steal away time, and cloud transparency with bureaucracy or intrigue. On the Pro Flag Facebook profile, it says, “The most intriguing Flag Football League ever!” (referring to Texas Ultimate Flag Football). I think that statement is an example of parapraxis (a Freudian slip…accidentally saying something that one really means without intending to do so). Dictionary.com has four definitions for intrigue. This is number four: to accomplish or force by crafty plotting or underhand machinations.
I am not going to equivocate. In the following paragraphs, I am going to show you that Texas Ultimate Flag Football is a scam. I am going to be completely honest, ascetic, and blunt. Regardless of your opinion concerning me, I urge you to read it…or at least do the research for yourself before paying your money.
On February 6, 2019, Pro Flag posted the following:
"Want a chance to play on the NFL Network?? Well now you can with the partnership of TUFF [Texas Ultimate Flag Football] and the AFFL Leagues. We will now be a feeder league with our champion an opportunity to compete for the 1 million dollar cash prize which was played in our back door in Houston TX."
The same day, Pro Flag sent a Facebook message to SETX Flag Football League containing the following statement:
"We have sponsors on board along with the AFFL…"
The AFFL (American Flag Football League) is a nationwide flag football organization which holds regional and national tournaments with cash awards. They are broadcast partners with NFL Network, and have myriad professional athletes working with them. Believe me…they are big, and they are a professionally run organization. Just look at their website – www.affl.com. Upon hearing that TUFF was partnering with AFFL, I was…what’s the word? Intrigued.
According to the AFFL website, they expect to put on seven regional events in the following cities/areas: Nashville, Orlando, Austin, Arlington, Richmond, New York/Connecticut area, and Southern California. You may notice, missing from that list is: Here (Golden Triangle, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Deweyville, et cetera). Concerning play in their organization, the website states, “You must apply in order to be eligible to play for the $1,000,000 prize.” The entry fee per player is $99. Nowhere on their page does the AFFL refer to local tournaments or leagues entering teams into their larger tournaments. The organizer of TUFF wishes to charge players $65 to play…with a chance to play in the AFFL tournament (which would still cost the person ninety-nine more dollars). This made me believe that AFFL and TUFF were not associated in any way.
I (along with other board members) reached out to the AFFL. We asked them if they were affiliated with TUFF, and if TUFF was a feeder league. This was their response: “If you have more information on this please send my way[.] But no, this is not true[.]” I spoke with an AFFL representative over the phone, and he indicated to me that they (the AFFL) were in no way affiliated or “partnering” with TUFF. That is a direct contradiction with the claims made by TUFF.
Throughout TUFF’s social media posts, they urge people to sign up right away. They say things like, “Sign up now before this opportunity passes you by.” And, “I HAVE 3 TEAMS LOCKED IN AS OF RIGHT NOW ALONG WITH 7 FREE AGENTS!”. Since they claim to be limiting their league to six teams, this sort of language places pressure on people to decide immediately. When something is designed to force someone to decide quickly, it is usually because giving thought to that decision would allow the person time to do research and possibly discover problems. Time and thought are enemies of the scam artist.
TUFF and Pro Flag have been posting on social media since July of 2018. They have been announcing schedules, rules, and news about their upcoming league. Missing from those announcements was a phone number, real information about locations, which person or organization would benefit from the league, whether the league was a nonprofit organization, and even the name of the person(s) in charge of the league. The only reasons for failing to be transparent about those things are that they do not want people to know who is in charge, or to what entity the money is going, or they are unsure if they can keep the promises they have made. That is troubling. Anyone who signs up for a flag football league (or anything for that matter) should know who is in charge, who the money is benefiting, and be able to expect the promises made to be kept. During a Facebook conversation with Pro Flag, we asked if they were a nonprofit organization. Their response was, “We are.”. During a later conversation, they claimed somehow to not be a business. According to people who have paid or attempted to pay Pro Flag/TUFF, the payments are taken through Venmo. Venmo is an application (similar to PayPal) used to accept money. The person receiving the money can be an individual or a company…the money is simply paid by using a phone number.
In the spirit of ultimate transparency, you should know that SETX FFL (our organization) does accept payments through Venmo and PayPal. The money goes directly into the league’s bank account (labeled SETX FFL at DuGood Federal Credit Union). If you ever want to know if you are paying an individual or organization, simply ask to whom you can write a check. If you wish to write a check to our organization, you simply make it payable to “SETX FFL.” We asked Pro Flag/TUFF to whom we could make a check payable but did not receive an answer. SETX FFL is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization registered with the IRS and the State of Texas. We submit a 990-N every year to stay in compliance with the federal government. I know what you are thinking…Those words drip with legitimacy. And that is because our organization is completely above board, and there is nothing to hide.
TUFF promises the following amenities to its teams and players (in their exact wording/capitalization):
Live filmed games
Play by play
Team promo video
Real football field with real lines
Promo gift bag
pre paid officials
All that, plus a guarantee that you will not have to play against the league owner or president! (I
understand that my athletic prowess can be intimidating.)
We have a nine-member board that currently operates SETX FFL. All of our board members have families, jobs, and a life outside of flag football. None of them benefit financially from our league or tournaments. We mark the fields, film the games, locate referees, contact teams, collect entry fees, keep our website and social media updated, upload every single game onto YouTube, create highlight videos, set up and clean up the field, and attempt to have some semblance of order while the games are being played. We use the money we collect for the following things: field rent; insurance; social media advertising; rewards for the winning teams; awards for players, fans, and hall of fame members; and recording equipment for the games, podcast, and special events. You will notice that payments to the president, vice president, and board members were not on that list. It would be impossible to pay for anything else.
Therefore, a six-game season with all that TUFF promises is nearly impossible without charging an astronomical fee. As it turns out, it is quite difficult to find people willing to film football games all day for zero dollars. Luckily, we have enlisted an excellent volunteer: My mother. The last time I checked, there was only one of her. So, unless TUFF is successfully recruiting my mother to film some of their games, I think they will find it virtually impossible to keep their promises without paying someone. This is not even mentioning the intricate logistics, recording hardware, video-editing software, and broadcasting apparatus that would be required for such an undertaking.
Bottom line: If someone is promising you a trip to the moon, inspect his/her space shuttle before booking it.
I do not know if TUFF’s motivations are completely malicious. I know that they have fabricated certain things, been deceptive about others, and made promises that they are most likely unable to keep.
So, what do I think they are attempting? It is simple. They want to make a little bit of money operating a flag football league in Beaumont. (I also think they have a problem with our organization and want to do us harm…but that is a different topic for a different blog.) There is not a thing wrong with the want to start a new league and the want to make money…it is what America is about. But, when someone deceives people by inflating their hopes and making up lies, I take issue.
I know people want to believe that somehow, they can play on NFL Network and maybe win $1,000,000 by playing flag football in a league in Beaumont, Texas. Sadly, that is just not true.
TUFF wants to seem like they are being bullied or treated unfairly. The truth is, if the person in charge of that league had simply called or wrote to our league at any point in the last year and asked about coordinating our leagues so that they did not conflict, we would have been completely receptive. I love football, and the more (good) football, the better. The tactic they used was to subtly draw comparisons to the two leagues and claim their league to be far superior. The problem is, one should not portray oneself as a predator and claim moral outrage when he/she is devoured as prey. If the rabbit taunts the bear and gets too close, the bear is not to be blamed for having bunny for dinner.
I know that these words have been harsh, but they have been the truth. I guess that is just tough…