From the Sidelines: It's just a sweet, sweet fantasy football, baby
Every August, my buddies and I mark a momentous day on the calendar. We tell our spouses and kids to make other plans for a few hours, as all 10 of us sit in rapt attention in front of our computer screens for our annual Fantasy Football draft.
We decided years ago not to put money into it. A few times, when my dear friend Alex and I were roommates, we might buy the other a burger at In-N-Out if we placed higher than the other person, but that was about it in terms of prizes. The competition is purely for bragging rights. I look forward to each week as my In By The Deadline squad does battle with teams from the Admirals to Game of Jones and Wired Haired Man Goblins. While I particpate in a few public leagues each year, this is the group I put almost all my fantasy football time and energy into.
My friend Alex and I first started competing in fantasy football in 2001 when the newspaper we both worked at had a league. Our boss held the draft at his home and he had a spread of giant sandwiches and chips for us to enjoy, as fantasy football guidebooks lined the table. The majority were veterans and were glad to have two novices join the league.
I followed football intently since I was a kid and I felt I could hold my own. I was right. In the mid rounds I drafted a bit high a promising rookie running back. I got roasted that day, as the vets rolled their eyes and sighed at my unfortunate pick. I’m glad to say he was a big reason I won the league that year.
The player in question was one LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers, who turned out to be a Hall of Famer. Since that time Alex has had a league with our friends each year and I have not missed a single year. While some people drop out and new ones are added when needed, there is a core group of about six players that have taken part for more than 10 years without fail.
It’s a great way to get reacquainted, as we all have one goal in mind. Fantasy football glory.
There is a good friend of Alex’s from high school, Tyler, who is ultra-competitive and will make boastful but fun announcements of one heading to defeat whenever you face him in a week. He won the league a few years ago, which he was quite proud of. This year has not been as kind as he sits in ninth place. I have not heard much from him in a few weeks. I wonder why? LOL.
I’ve had a solid season so far and I’m in third place. As of Monday, I was up big in my week 10 matchup as I look to move up to second place as I hunt for my first league title in four long years. This could be my year. Fingers crossed.
I admit that I have become a bit obsessed from time to time. There was one incident a number of years ago when I gather, I was conducting a fantasy football league in my sleep out loud. My girlfriend woke me up and asked with a bit of curiosity and bewilderment in her voice, “So Bill, who is Ricky Willams and Deuce McAllister and why do you want to draft them with your 10th overall pick in the first round?”
Alex and I chat at least a few times a week and discuss how things are going, including, of course, fantasy football. His dad and step mom are also in the league and from time to time he will pass on messages from them about a game where I faced them.
For me, the fantasy football league is a wonderful way to connect with old friends who live far away and to continue to bond and keep in touch. It’s fun each week to look over my lineup, deciding what I can do to try to win that week’s contest. This might mean grabbing a player with an intriguing matchup off the waiver wire, or benching a starter who has struggled as of late or might be nursing an injury.
Sure, I’d love to win the title this year, but for me, it really is not about the fantasy football title destination, it’s about the fantasy football journey.