Fantasy Football For All

I received the following e-mail from a curious Daddy Files reader a few days ago:

Dear Aaron, I saw you mentioned fantasy football in one of your posts and as a wife to a guy who is obsessed with it, I need to know WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?? As far as I can tell you’re picking real players to play on made up teams and you’re putting money on it. It’s fake!!! Are you all really that pathetic? And what’s worse, for the next four months I hear about it constantly. He’s checking his teams (because he has like 6 of them) on his phone at family outings. He needs to make sure to hit the “waiver wire” (whatever the hell that is) to get new players. And he’s constantly trying to trade with his friends. It’s a sickness. I’ve asked him why it’s such a big deal but he says he can’t explain it. So I’m hoping you can.

Thanks, Pissed Off Wife

Well POW, you’re in luck. I was going to delve into the world of fantasy sports and you provided me with the perfect segue. So here goes.

Most men, myself included, played some sort of sport at some point in their lives. But if they’re anything like me, they’ve long ago given up pursuits of athletic glory. Probably because they’re now 30-40 pounds overweight, working full-time at a sedentary desk job and too busy being a husband and a father for such endeavors. But at the same time, we miss our playing days. Being around the guys. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Not to mention the locker room talk, which we can’t do anymore because our wives hate it and our kids will mimic it.

That’s where fantasy sports come into play.

Here is a concept that allows us to pick and manage our very own professional sports team. We draft the players, make free agent acquisitions, craft trades and try to guide our franchise to a championship trophy. We get the opportunity to do our research, take a chance on rookie or unknown and watch as he leads our team to the promise land. And we can do it all on our phone or from the comfort of our couch.

But the best part is we are playing against our friends. Make no mistake, that is the main value of fantasy sports. At least for me.

My primary fantasy football league has been in existence since 2004. Almost all of my closest friends are a part of it, including my dad and my brother. We live all over New England and my brother is in Baltimore. Most of us are married and half of us have kids now. Needless to say getting us all in one place is quite the task. But even with work, kids and long travel times, each and every one of us has made it year after year for draft night. Being there in person is a requirement actually, or else you forfeit your team.

In fact draft night is so important that one of my brother’s only stipulations upon moving to Baltimore with his future wife Melissa was that he be allowed under every circumstance to return for the draft in August of every year. No matter what. I think he even has it in writing.

And speaking of draft night, it’s awesome. Well, if you’re a guy it’s awesome. Women would probably take one look at us in a dank basement reeking of farts and beer and wonder how the hell we manage to tie our shoes on a daily basis. But for us, it’s heaven.

We come from all walks of life. We are journalists, lawyers, stockbrokers, store managers, veterans, teachers and pharmaceutical salesmen. Some of us are sports fanatics who develop multi-tiered Excel spreadsheets and color-coded pie graphs to assist us with drafting. Others pick up a Fantasy Football magazine minutes before we arrive. There are 12 teams, and the team names over the years have been the best. This year I’ve returned to an old favorite, The Killer Brushis. But I’ve been the CU Next TuesdayS, My Boys Can Swim and Mike Vick’s Rape Stand. Craig’s team this year is simple: “Ass and Titties.” Dino went with “Deadly Sausage Farts” (if you know him you know the moniker is apropos) and my brother is “Dead Guys Rule,” because last year he drafted former Bengals WR Chris Henry. I say former because Henry is now dead. Needless to say when you draft a dead guy you’re going to hear it from people.

And speaking of hearing it, man we lay into each other. Because we’re all great friends, it means the taunting is especially vicious since none of us hold a grudge. Like this year, for instance, when we were all sitting around the grill cooking dinner before the draft and my friend Billy showed up. With veggie burgers. We immediately began eviscerating him but it got even worse when we found out he stopped eating red meat only because his 5-year-old son got wicked upset when he found out red meat comes from cows. So Billy, who never met a steak he didn’t like, is now a vegetarian all because his little boy doesn’t want to hurt cows. Billy, you’re a complete jackass and a total pansy.

Not to mention he also drafted Ben Tate, the Houston Texans running back who sustained a season-ending injury before the draft. Of course that’s nothing next to the year he drafted WR Peerless Price…IN THE FIRST ROUND! The bitch of it is he went onto win the league on two separate occasions. The fantasy gods work in mysterious ways.

One year the draft actually doubled as a bachelor party for our buddy Kelly. We had a friend of a friend who did a little “dancing” for a “gentlemen’s establishment,” so we hired her for the night to write all the names of the players on our draft board and get us beers. Topless. And she did lap dances too. Which was hysterical because I didn’t tell my father she was going to be there, and you should’ve seen his face when this girl suddenly whips her shirt off. So of course we threw a few $20 bills on his lap and delighted in his obvious discomfort.

The bottom line is we need that one night of year. Some women may not understand that or disagree, but it’s true. Draft night is one of the best nights of my year because I get to see all my friends. In between the insults and beating the crap out of each other, we catch up. Share pictures of our kids. Talk about life in general. A few of us always end up staying the night and it’s great, even if we can’t remember it all the next morning.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I thank my lucky stars every day that I’m married to MJ, because she gets it. A lot of wives give their husbands shit about stuff like this. But not MJ. She sends me off with a kiss and a smile and tells me to have a ball. And she means it. That’s rare. I know many women who think this is childish and stupid. They scold their husbands for hanging on to something so juvenile and they deride them, saying we should stay home and deal with our responsibilities. But when it comes to buying another pair of shoes or performing a hobby they like but we think is the dumbest thing on Earth, we’re just supposed to go with the flow. I’ve seen it so many times and it irks the shit out of me.

But fuck that. Those women suck and I want to pitch them over a cliff. MJ knows how important my friends are to me. She also knows I more than pull my weight around the house. I’m a good husband and a good father and she recognizes the importance of connecting with friends every once in a while.

Because that’s really what the draft is. Sure we’ll argue for weeks leading up to draft night about whether to take Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson with the #1 pick (I’d go with Peterson for what it’s worth), but draft night is all about buddies. Camaraderie. Of if you’re a woman and still don’t get it, it’s some warped and twisted version of Girls Night Out. Except with a lot more farting and belching and calling each other derogatory names.

It may sound stupid, but it’s more important than you might think. So guys, enjoy the upcoming fantasy season. And ladies, thanks for being cool about it.

And for those who care, here’s my team this year. Obviously it’s the best one!

STARTERS

QB: Matt Schaub

WR: Andre Johnson

WR: Jeremy Maclin

WR: Mike Sims-Walker

RB: Cedric Benson

RB/WR: LeSean McCoy

TE: Visanthe Shiancoe

K: Laurence Tynes

DEF: San Diego

BENCH PLAYERS:

RBs: Thomas Jones, Toby Gerhart

WRs: Mohammed Massquoi, Devin Hester

QB: Sam Bradford

TE: Heath Miller

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13 thoughts on “Fantasy Football For All

  1. Just wait until the NFL extends the season another two games. It will add a whole new dimension to all this.

  2. I get fantasy football. My husband doesn’t bother with it, but that’s his choice. If he wanted to, I wouldn’t say a word. Well, I can’t say that in all honesty, because I’d probably still give him (loving, friendly, not-at-all-serious) grief about it. Just because that’s how we are. I understand why a lot of my guy friends (and not a few of the girls) play fantasy football. It’s a game. It’s fun, even when it’s as competitive as some of my friends play. Most football fans have sat somewhere at least once and said “wouldn’t it be great if you had *insert QB* on the same team as *insert WR* and *insert RB*?”

    But here’s my analysis of fantasy football: Fantasy football is a role-playing game for all the guys who beat up the kids who played D&D in high school. As someone who spent a large part of high school and all of college as one of those geeks who played role-playing games like D&D, maybe that’s why I get it so much.

  3. Jen: Interesting theory but I disagree.

    D&D is total fantasy. And, I’m sorry to say, it’s annoying as all hell. My girlfriend played it in college and I wanted to kill all of the dorks who would laugh uproariously because one of their characters just got sucked into a gelatinous cube. Ugh…flashbacks.

    But anyway, you can’t control the characters in fantasy football. You can choose who you insert in the line up, but you can’t dictate what they do. It’s based on performance and statistics in real life.

    So I get your analogy and believe me, I have MANY friends who play D&D and I love them dearly. But I just can’t make that connection.

  4. Aaron, I totally hear you about having something that keeps family & friends together through the year. My husband does one fantasy football league but he did THREE fantasy baseball leagues this year. And one of them is with his three brothers–who are all in different states. So, they all get to catch up & keep up with each other through this activity that they LOVE, considering we all get to see each other maybe once a year. My sisters-in-law and I keep trying to come up with our “version” of fantasy baseball to keep in touch and just can’t.

    I was in a fantasy football league for a couple of years and I was a HUGE dork in high school. Was. Am. I still am a huge dork.

  5. Thanks for this! I am the wife of a fantasy sport addict. I am also our Football league champion for 2 of the three years of our family/friends league. I truly didnt understand fantasy sports until my husband forced me to have a team one year. The first year was a random league on yahoo, but I won that year and will always enjoy telling the story of how I was champion and my hubby was 10th. We then started our family/friends league and it keeps growing. We have so much fun with all aspects of our league and it has truly brought people together who barely knew each other before.

  6. Really, no matter how beautifully you defend it, Fantasy Football is just silly. But as long as wives can have their Kindles while watching games, it’s ok. molly

  7. Alright. I have to admit, Fantasy Football had me asking questions when it first became a “thing” but last year, I played on a family league for the first time and had a blast! This year, my hubby created a family league and our draft is in a few days. We’re looking forward to a little friendly competition and bringing the family together when we can’t all be in the same room.

    Good luck this season!

  8. For the record, I keep finishing ahead of you – although that is no great achievement.

  9. I’m a woman and I LUH football, fantasy football, football players’ twitters, the message boards, the pregame warmup, the halftime discussion, the postgame wrapup. Cannot get enough.

    Just thought I’d get that out there.

  10. I have broken through the glass ceiling of FF and play in my husband’s league. He’s the commish, so we get a lot of crap flung at us, but actually we are super-competitive with each other. I always enjoy our draft…it’s a good excuse to drop my lady-like self and revel in some trash talk with the fellas. I’ve been doing FF for six years now and I love it. I won in 2006, got 2nd place in 2007 but have struggled the last few years. I plan to turn it around this season and win. I need to win. I NEED IT.

    We have a keeper league, which makes the draft more interesting in the early rounds, but downright tedious in the later ones. I mean, how many people can get THAT stoked to draft a 4th string RB just to fill out their bench?

    Oh, my team name this year is “I’ve Got A Tim Tebow-ner”…past year’s teams have been named “Be My Yoko Romo” and “Sexy Rexy Is Gross, Man”…I like puns.

  11. My wife has been great about the years of fantasy football in our house. She was even the one that reminded me of my draft this coming Friday for a reason why we couldn’t escape town a little early for a zoo trip with our little one. That’s pretty awesome in my eyes.

    Ultimately, some get it and some don’t. In much the same reason why I can’t stand to watch Desperate Housewives or one of the hundred how to style my house shows.

    Different strokes for different folks. Nice article Aaron.

  12. I like fantasy sports. It a several hundred million dollar business now. It has gone from dorky thing to mainstream. I would like it even if it was still the dorky thing. I don’t have an in person draft to attend or anything like that. But is does give me a little competition which is always nice.

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