Years ago I participated in a fantasy football league. For the most part, I found it akin to mentally retarded masturbation. This may invoke troubling imagery but I think it's an accurate assessment. Allow me to explain.
Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement is upon us. But there is a high-holy-holiday of vastly greater magnitude. It's called the fantasy draft. And on this day ye shalt repent for your receptions. If you're going to experience life through the performance of Ben Roethlisberger, ye shalt not take his name in vain. Sorry... get married, have kids, become a goodwill ambassador. It does not matter. To me, you'll always be the "Raping-Burger."
Draft day is rapidly approaching. So first, we must find the perfect day to accommodate everyone. It's a challenge that NEVER works. Someone always gets screwed over by some mishap... kids soccer game, funeral, untimely food poisoning, oil change, diabetic coma, etc. What's even worse is the person who's out of town, but thanks to modern technology, he will participate via skype or cell phone. This is one of the most confusing, annoying scenarios ever conceived in the history of man. Absolutely maddening.
So draft day has commenced. Here's how it starts. Someone usually shows up with a frozen shrimp ring and lays it on the kitchen counter. Apparently, their job ended with the purchase of said, 100 count shrimp ring. It's always up to someone else to defrost the damn thing. It remains completely frozen and sealed until the waning moments of the draft. Suddenly, the token hippie deadhead in the room decides he has a case of seafood munchies. He silently reflects...
Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it.
In this case, it's the economical Kroger frozen ginormous shrimp ring. But the stoned, hungry hippie fumbles when trying to open the package. He ends up spilling shrimp-infused, melted water all over the living room carpet. He tells nobody of his transgression. The host remains oblivious for a few days until the smell becomes so overwhelming, he has to crawl around the living room with his nose pressed to the floor.
Alright, the season has commenced. And with it comes the desire to discuss fantasy football above all else. Every time you run into someone in the league, the conversation is a given. It's fantasy football, 24/7. The election, global warming, abortion, pedophile Catholic priests... none of that matters. The only matter of concern is the league. Al Qaeda is arming Syrian rebels. Who cares? Mitt Romney might steal the election. So what? I saw your ex-wife on the northern regional jail website. Uhhh, no.
But the worst aspect of fantasy football is the one-dimensional reciting of endless names and empty statistics. News flash: nobody gives a fuck who your players are. Nobody gives a damn about Michael Vick's rushing touchdown. Nobody cares about Peyton Manning's 312 yards or Billy Cuntiff's 3 field goals. Nobody cares. Well... except you, of course. Then, the conversation extends to one of the other league participants. Now it's his/her turn to regurgitate how their players performed. And the woeful cycle continues unabated. "Dude, Joe Flacco had 280 yards and 4 tds. And the Giants defense had a safety. YEAH!" 8 minutes later, someone else gets a turn. As Jay-Z might say, "Onto the next one." Of course, he was referring to bitches and Ho-Ho's. More meaningless information must be exchanged. And as usual, the only person giving a damn is the blabbering buffoon. People aren't listening to you, they're listening at you. They're just standing there, ignoring every word you say. Because rest assured, they'll eventually get their 5 minutes of fame.
There are other bothersome aspects as well. The sudden desire and obsession with watching games like Carolina vs. Tampa Bay. Enter the remote control experts and television split-scene supremacists. Don't blame them. Pity them. Why watch the actual game when you can see a flood of real-time stats? After all, that's way more exciting. Reclining in your Lazy-Boy, consuming handfuls of Funyons while living vicariously through feats of athleticism in a distant metropolis.
And what about the dumbing-down of intriguing subject matter. Like no other professional sport, the NFL offers so much in the way of sub-plots and story lines. Legalized gambling, the integrity of replacement refs, coach firings, the notion of an artificially generated stampede and the ensuing domino effect.... but all you get is, "Duh, I used to have Kurt Warner for my QB. I acquired him by the grace of god."
And just when you think it's over, here comes Honey Boo Boo. Here comes the annoying bozo who loudly cheers on his team while simultaneously rooting for one of its opponents. Everyone experiences this conflict during the season. Yet it takes that really "special" person to constantly make an issue of it. Ohhh, the ironic conundrum he's faced with. You see... it's just this crazy hand he was dealt. He wants the Eagles to win, but is secretly hoping for a high scoring game because he started Dallas QB Tony Homo. But more important, he doesn't want to jinx it. So he'll try to keep it on the down-low. But that never works because fantasy football just gets too emotional.
Back in 5th grade at Woodsdale Elementary School, I had a "Language Arts" teacher named Mr. Richardson. He was one of the better instructors I had. Although a little intimidating, he had great stage presence. He always tried to make ordinary things come alive. One of the events we'd look forward to was a "mock football game/spelling exercise." He'd set up a football field grid on the chalkboard. Magnets were used to recreate the image of a team moving down the field. Then, he'd divide the class right down the middle. Both teams got to choose their own name.
Students had 3 options. Choose either a run, pass or bomb and correctly spell the assigned word. A run equaled a 4 yard gain. A pass was a 15 yard gain. Or you could choose the "bomb" option which translated into an immediate touchdown. Of course, the most challenging words were reserved for the bomb option. And Mr. Richardson was a stickler. You'd have to coherently recite the word, spell it perfectly and recite it again. No do-overs. If you made even in the slightest error (lightly cough or murmur the word "uh"), it was a turnover and the other side took possession.
One time, I argued that the word "aardvark" had been unknowingly moved from bomb to pass. Mr. Richardson rebuffed my accusations telling the class, "Yeah, we all know about the double "a"... that cat's out of the bag." But for some reason, I became livid and wouldn't let the matter die. He eventually acknowledged that it was a spontaneous, unilateral decision. Considering his imposing nature, getting him to admit the error felt like a great triumph.
Why do I mention all of this? Well, last year Gigi and I started playing our own NFL game. It's easy to fill out the sheet. But tallying up the final scores presents a decent challenge. All in all, it strikes a nice balance. Points are awarded for the following:
1 pt. for correct over/under
1 pt. for the correct line
1 pt. for all of the above
3 pts. for an upset
10 pts. for an exact score
asterisk selection = total points are doubled
If the margin of victory = the spread OR the total lands on the listed over/under, IT'S A PUSH and is scratched.
Each week, you get to "asterisk" one game. Your total points for that selection are doubled, so obviously it's desirable to take an upset.
Each person tallies their own points privately. When you're finally confident with the math, you sit down and compare results face to face. If you get a score wrong, YOU LOSE ALL THE POINTS FOR THAT GAME. This is how I won week #2. Gigi got her asterisk selection wrong and lost 14 points. Ouch.
You can get the lines from any website, but I like the layout of wsex.com. It sounds like a sex website but actually stands for World Sports Exchange. Normally, I wouldn't divulge the results until our Sopranos-style sit-down. But this week, I was utterly obliterated. As you can see, I need to focus more on picking up the shattered pieces of my picks.
51-17. Talk about a beat-down. Being sodomized by multiple replacement refs. Yep, that's what it feels like.
I desperately need to step up my game. So I added a picture to my team's cover. I did it free-hand. Took me about 15 minutes. I think it might help. I just need some inspiration. My picks sucked this week.
Here's Georgiann's team:
Onto next week.
Our game (which I have just named "Fantastical Football") is superior to fantasy football because it involves the real components of the game (the spread, the over/under and predicting the upsets). Just like on Maury Povich, every week we dial up our own drama.
Final notes: We keep a running tally of weekly point totals for the season. We do a separate contest for the playoffs. I'll elaborate on that format when the time comes. Each week the winner is lavished with $10 worth of prizes (completely at the discretion of the loser).
And hey... one last predictable prediction: Everything seems to point to the stampedes occurring before the presidential election. Commissioner Goodell and the entire NFL seem almost purposely distracted with all the replacement ref nonsense. It's the one curve ball that hands Mitt Romney the White House.