NFL Challenge looks unlikely

It seems that the NFL Quarterback Challenge may not be taking place in the Cayman Islands this year, the Caymanian Compass has learned.

The DoT agreed to pay more than US$2.2 million to host the Quarterback Challenge in the Cayman Islands for three years, which included US$700,000 last year.

Last year’s challenge was filmed here but the programme never aired on ESPN or NFL network as it was scheduled to. The NFL cancelled the airing because of Quarterback Challenge participant Michael Vick’s indictment for heading up an illegal dog fighting ring. A US federal district court later convicted and sentenced him in 2007.

A series of questions relating to the status of the NFL Quarterback Challenge e-mailed to the Department of Tourism by the Caymanian Compass Thursday afternoon had not been answered by press time Monday.

The questions included the reason the event would not go ahead, how much of the US$2.2 million has been paid out so far and how much, if any, will the CI government be refunded if the event does not take place this year and next.

When the airing of the show was cancelled last year, Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford said the DoT was negotiating with the NFL for alternative value for the money it had paid out so far, but that regardless, the DoT/NFL partnership would forge ahead. He said he felt confident the DoT would be able to negotiate a deal to the satisfaction of all involved.

Back in May 2007 when the deal was announced Minister Clifford said money spent on the event amounted to free air-time for Cayman in the lucrative US market. ‘If we were to try and buy that type of TV time or exposure we couldn’t afford it,’ he said.

NFL’s website contains no information pertaining to a 2008 Quarterback Challenge taking place.