September 10, 2006

An NFL Season Without Real Fantasy Football?

In 2001, my boss and a co-worker asked me to join their fantasy football league, saying they needed two new people to fill out the 12-team roster. I of course declined. After all, baseball's the sport I really follow, and any attempts I would make to follow the NFL would undoubtedly see me out of patience and eventually out of money. But they were persistent, and as the eventual draft day drew nearer, I agreed, knowing the $50 I put in to get into the league would be money I'd never see again.

Surprise of all surprises, the fact that I didn't follow the league and hadn't pledged my allegiance to any specific team actually gave me a leg up on the hardened regulars. Rather than rooting for my favorites, I could subjectively look at the numbers and the matchups to project who would do well, and somehow, after it was all said and done, I had won the league title, as a rookie, winning both the regular season, and the playoff round (by a single point). (See League History)

2002 and 2003 saw me flounder a bit. The team nose-dived in 2002, which I blamed on my being otherwise distracted in courting my eventual fiancée. 2003, similarly, was my first year married. But as with all marriages, you eventually settle in and find your role again, so by 2004, I won the regular season, and finished second in the playoffs. In 2005, I made the playoffs for a third time in five years, and took home the trophy for the second time, giving me bookends in the bookshelf that spoke to my fantasy football prowess.

But the gravy train looks like it has come to an end. At the conclusion of the 2005 year, the commissioner begged off, claiming family time was much more of a priority. In the wake of that announcement, and barring any true leadership from the peanut gallery, the league disbanded. Now, a group of six players from the original league have started what's called a "Next Generation" site on Fox's Fantasy Sports page, but it's just not going to be the same. No money is involved, and the site auto-drafted, eliminating some of the most fun parts of fantasy football - the trash talk and the one-upmanship at draft day - not to mention no trophies.

It's the end of an era. And on the first full day of NFL games, when recliner chairs and couches across the US are getting their full workout, we're not feeling like celebrating.

Listening to ''Moogwai'', by DJ Lithium (Play Count: 8)