There comes a time in every man’s life to attempt to make a bold decision. For me, in past years it was to either be a fantasy sports guy, or just a fan that merely makes opinions from his sports-teams-colored goggles perspective. Now, it’s not a tough decision for me when I’m asked if I want to join this [insert sport, then fantasy] league, and I’ll explain why.
I have no problems inserting my mind focus on fantasy baseball every year. It’s a 162-game schedule; I don’t worry a whole lot about a player scorching my team for multiple doubles or multiple homers. Just as long as the players I draft are more-so in the AL, or in a division in the NL where the Cardinals don’t step around the area too often — I’m cool with that.
But for football, it’s a different story. It’s not that I don’t like it — really, I do like it, but it manipulates my thoughts — and it’s not that I’m against it because I lose too much (well, I didn’t lose or win too much; I was average), it’s because it almost drives me against my favorite team, and I cannot root for a player(s) to do that.
I played fantasy sports in the 90s online when they started to pop out over the net, and it wasn’t a problem for me. The Rams were arguably the worst team in the NFL that decade. I didn’t have anything to lose. I would still root for the hell out of that team, but I was deeply involved in winning fantasy games rather than seeing my favorite NFL team win games. When ’99 came around, I still played. I played fantasy football throughout the whole freakin’ tenure of the Greatest Show on Turf Days (’99-01; ’03). It didn’t bother me because in that time, I had confidence in the team and I didn’t know where they were going. To explain more, I didn’t even know where in the heck I was going [with my mind].
In one of the leagues I was involved in, in the 2005 NFL season, I won the championship. Guess who was the guy that carried me over the hump? Seattle Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander. He ran all over the Rams — and the entire NFL — that season, and I didn’t complain about it. I didn’t reflect on the fact that I was excited that Alexander was playing well. I would cuss during the Rams/Seahawks games and only get eerily pissed off when Alexander would take hand offs and swoosh around his magnificent blockers (Now Shaun, you better thank Mr. [Shaun] Hutchinson and Mr. [Walter] Jones, now) to evade the porous Rams’ tacklers. Then after the day was over, I’d go on the website and look at the stats and seen that Alexander did so well, and then I’d think, “wait a minute, he busted my Rams’ asses earlier today; what the hell?!”
I didn’t even give the Rams factor another thought the rest of the year. They finished 6-10 while the Seahawks devised a Super Bowl bid. All I could think about the whole post season was winning the fantasy league, and how close I was to capping it off. I finally did it. But a couple of weeks later, I reflected on what had twisted my mind over the season and how different I became when I watched Rams games when they matched up against a team that had a few of my fantasy players playing for them.
I haven’t played fantasy football since that year. If I did play again, I know what would happen. Well, wait, the Rams are God-awful (they were in 2007 anyway), and they were even worse in the 1990s. Perhaps if I play again, they will jump-start another sort of Show on Turf and become an elite football team again. Let me ponder it. Almost there. Well, hm. Here’s my answer: No stinkin’ way.