I’ve been a fantasy football geek since 1994. That’s the year the Los Angeles Rams hightailed it out of L.A. for St. Louis. My buddies and I, huge Rams fans all, were traumatized. I guess we felt a little like Brooklynites when the original Dodgers pulled the same stunt. (If you were to tell me that L.A. would still be without a pro football team 15 years later, I’d have said you were nuts.) I tried becoming a Raiders fan for a brief period, but it wasn’t a good fit. I was always afraid I’d catch a stray bullet.
Without a team, we turned to fantasy football for solace. Many of us play to this day. So do some of our kids, which is very cool. It’s touching when you pass along important values to the younger generation.
Like all hobbies, it’s only interesting if you’re actually doing it. (There’s nothing more boring than someone else’s hobby.) I try to keep that in mind so I won’t be tempted to subject non-fantasy folks to my foolishness. Years ago, a friend of mine became obsessed with racing model boats. He kept trying to get me to come out to Sunset Park to watch the races, but I couldn’t have cared less. The only thing that would have motivated me to leave the house was if the boats fired live ammo.
I’m sure you’re asking, “What’s the point?” I don’t blame you. For me, fantasy football is a metaphor for life. (What isn’t?) You take an essentially meaningless exercise, agree to some rather arbitrary rules (our “reality”), invest money to up the ante (tangible reward), add bragging rights (ego), and voila, it somehow all matters. When I was younger, a tough loss would ruin my whole week. Now that I’m older and more mature, I’m over it by Wednesday.
As writers, we also create our own reality. I’m sure that’s part of the appeal. In day-to-day existence, I’m not all that interested in playing God (or even President), although there are times I wouldn’t mind smiting some idiot in traffic. But in fiction, everything’s fair game. It can be cathartic, a healthy release. Who knows, it might even keep us from acting on our worst impulses. That’s fortunate for the lady driving 45 in the fast lane.
Wish me luck tonight. I need a big game from Jason Witten.