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Farmer: Fantasy Football (Sept. 19)

Douglas Farmer | Monday, September 19, 2011


I have played fantasy football for 12 seasons now. Well, this is currently my 12th season. After the last 12 years, I have come to hate fantasy football.

First, let’s put 12 years in perspective, at least related to football. My rookie year was 2000. It was also Tom Brady’s first season. I won a title my first year. Brady waited until his second season.

Other 2000 rookies: Shaun Alexander, now retired; Plaxico Burress, missed the last two seasons while he relaxed in jail; Sebastian Janikowski, kicked an NFL record-tying 63-yard field goal last week, but still plays for the Oakland Raiders.

Of these players, only Janikowski has actually played 12 seasons, but I think it is safe to assume none have competed while hating the game. Yet, I persevere.

Fantasy football is a grand endeavor. It annually brings friends together for an afternoon of laughs, mockery and pizza. It brings competition to a male gender that obviously doesn’t compete enough.  And it glues the casual football fan to his or her TV for the duration of Sunday afternoon.

At the same time, fantasy football distorts a football fan’s allegiances.

Yesterday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns. That performance netted my fantasy football team 24 points, and vaulted me over my Bears-favoring foe. Obviously, I appreciated Rodgers’ efforts.

But it was running back John Kuhn who first put the Pack on the scoreboard, with a one-yard run in the second quarter. Kuhn cut in half a 13-0 deficit to the Carolina Panthers. I, as a lifelong Packers fan and indeed a Wisconsin native, should have joined every member of my high school class with a Facebook status update of, “KUUUUUUUUUHN.”

Instead, I lamented the fact that Rodgers did not notch a touchdown pass. I was legitimately bothered by the lack of a passing touchdown. After all, those four points would have brought me a step higher in my league’s overall standings.

See what fantasy football has turned me into? I am no longer satisfied when my Packers score. They have to score in the way I want. It is as if I no longer appreciate my mother’s cooking when it isn’t my absolute favorite dish. Just because I love her fettuccini alfredo does not mean her meatloaf is not stellar.

Honestly, if my fantasy football obsession ceased there, I doubt I would hate it. I would see my own personal failing, and simply try to hide it from the world.

But it gets worse. In one of yesterday’s early afternoon games, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles went down with an injury. Evening reports indicated a torn ACL, likely season-ending.

Most people would cringe for Charles, sympathize with him, understand how upset he must be. Not me, I did a silent fist pump, and not because I have a personal vendetta against all Kansas City sports.

Rather, I relished the news because I have Chiefs backup running back Thomas Jones on my team. Now, Jones is a viable fantasy football threat. Thanks to Charles’ misfortune, my fictional team benefited.

I know, I’m pathetic. This is the level fantasy football has reduced me to, and this is why I hate fantasy football.

It is time I return to true fan status, simply thrilled the Packers remained undefeated, and disappointed Charles will not get a chance to build on his stellar last two seasons.

Then again, I have at least remained loyal to Notre Dame — never drafting a former USC Trojan.

Oh wait, I snagged Reggie Bush in one of my leagues this year.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer.    

Contact Douglas at dfarmer1@nd.edu