“Yes, we are so blessed to have not one, but two teams in the playoffs. Most families don’t have any.” – Kevin (The League)
I have been playing fantasy football for something like 25 years. I drafted Brett Favre when he was a rookie. When we used pen and paper, and by paper I mean that thing that had Houston Post written on top of it (Old School Houston reference.) I have also been a father now for 15 fantasy football seasons. There have been great days as a father (when I taught my kids to wipe their own asses), and there have been days that can only be described as a struggle (all days before I taught them to wipe their asses.) But all in all, it has been a good run as both father and fantasy football team owner.
We all had the friends in the league that could never quite make it to the draft in person. And they struggled with technology, and it was a headache to try to make it work. I was the guy who had the kids first, and so I would bring my kid along as a proxy and he would draft for one of the teams, for like 3 years in a row at a BW3 in Midtown. He did well, and was encouraged by the other owners and the guy he picked for. I felt like a dumbass, but I had to bring him for this event; I didn’t want to be that guy. And this was his first exposure to the world of fantasy football.
A few years went by, he got older. And started to dabble in the waters on his own. Nothing major, some quick Yahoo or ESPN drafts with anonymous people. It was like a gateway drug, though. This year he took the full steps into the deep end of the pool. With his major $20 dollar-a-team league (eyes roll.) And thus begins this article.
Do you remember when the kids were 2-4 years old? And they kept saying the same things. And kept playing the same movies. I got so tired of the crap he was watching when he was 4 years old, that I removed that particular terrible kid movie DVD and put in Smokey and Bandit. I thought this was genius, a movie I love; I should be able to handle this being on. Let me tell you, after 300 viewings, you will eventually get tired of Burt Reynold’s laugh and Jackie Gleason’s Sheriff Buford T. Justice. Granted it took like 200 viewings, before I started to hate it, but it happened: the kid broke me. Fast forward to ten years later, and following his first independent pay league, the questions started.
“Dad, what do you think of my Running Backs?”
“Dad, check out these QBs that are available?”
“Dad, what kicker should I use this week?” (Yes, he had multiple kickers.)
It was early in September, and I played along, because hey, my kid and I have an interest together. He started planning his weekends around the game schedules.
“Dad, Jets and Browns are on Thursday Night Football tonight: I am pumped, my kicker is in this game!”
I smiled, and looked around at what I had created. My wife had a different look on her face. October began, and questions never stopped. It was like he was 5 again, constant questions, and I started to crack.
“Dad, why do they call them the Browns?”
“Dad, why can’t they see the yellow line?”
“Dad, would you start Trubisky or Flacco, or should I pick up FitzMagic?”
I went numb, and played deaf.
Don’t get me wrong, it is great that he found this form of crack rock. But I am the guy that has seen it for 20+ years. The guy that has made fun of people talking about how good their team is in meetings at work. Guys who drafted a kicker in the 10th round, because it was just “too hard to pass up on Gostkowski.” Now this madness has infected my home life, my sanctuary.
He now stays home on Sundays. As we leave for his brother’s baseball games. He gets his favorite snacks lined up and his go-to soda, sometimes he showers. He says crazy shit like, “Dad, I can’t wait to see this game from London, at 9:30 AM.” Not a day goes by that we don’t talk fantasy football. It is a blessing and a curse. And man do I hope he wins, but when he loses, hell hath no fury like a 15-year-old who didn’t get Zeke Elliot his touches, and loses because he didn’t start the correct kicker. But as a father, it’s not more you can ask for; at least I know where he is every Sunday morning. And that’s more than my mom could have hoped for.