At the risk of sounding like a Peace Corps PSA from the 1970s, serving as a fantasy-league commissioner may be the toughest, most thankless job you'll ever love.
Here are six simple steps to running a productive (and happy) ship with traditional leagues.
1. Be Accessible, Courteous, Judicious and Principled
If you glean anything from this particular entry, let it be one of the four adjectives from above.
Before each NFL week launches on Thursday night, all owners should have access to your preferred personal email (or cell number) and be encouraged to voice their concerns about league matters, day or night (within reason, of course).
And when contacted, the commissioner must be a calming, insightful influence, consistently promoting the short- and long-term welfare/integrity of the league. In other words, don't be that guy (or gal) who converts one gaffe into a series of misfortunes.
If you make a mistake conducting the draft (I nearly ruined the SI.com & Friends hoops league in 2009), overseeing trades or monitoring the blind-bidding auction system for free agents, own up to the goof and go from there.
The message here: Do everything in your power to rectify an error—or at least find a workable solution.
2. Don't Take Sides When Mediating a Dispute Between Owners
This one is common sense but warrants mention anyway.
If Owner A trades LeSean McCoy to Owner B for Jerome Simpson, Armon Binns and Ryan Williams and the other GMs demand a retraction, simply investigate the matter from all sides before rendering a decision.
If Owner A believes Simpson can replicate last year's output (50 catches/725 yards/4 TD) in just 13 games (2012 season cut short by suspension), or that Binns has the physical tools to become a dynamic No. 2 receiver with the Bengals and that Williams has the potential for 1,000 total yards and eight touchdowns...then perhaps a blockbuster has merit.
On paper, though, it still looks like a blowout in McCoy's favor.
The fail-safe method for trade disputes: Invoke a veto system where at least 50 percent of the owners have a 24- to 48-hour period to fairly (and anonymously) nix the deal.
Just make sure the owners understand the matter will be closed after the veto period ends.
3. Never Make Your Own Vote Public During the Trade-Veto Period
Even if you just OK'd the ultimate win-win blockbuster or rejected the most unbalanced swap since the Dallas Cowboys fleeced the fledgling Seattle Seahawks for the rights to Tony Dorsett in the 1977 NFL draft, it serves no purpose to discuss your personal vote with the owners.
Let others cast their votes in peace. Steer clear of initiating pro/con arguments focusing on the trade.
And when your team is involved in a tentative trade...DO NOT utter a word about it until the veto window has officially closed. Even then, no gloating or whining. Be professional.
4. Avoid Public Comments on Official Trades That Don't Involve Your Team
I run four "Fantasy Philanthropist" football leagues (16-teamers), solely comprised of owners who follow me on Twitter or support The Fantasy Blog. And occasionally, someone will solicit my opinion of an intra-league deal, prompting this default response: As long as the trade's fair, I don't care who wins.
Three years ago, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I playfully mocked a fellow owner (on my SI.com blog) about one trade in a Philanthropist-style league. Since we weren't friends or work acquaintances, he had no prior knowledge of my demented sense of humor, and treated the comments with the utmost seriousness.
He then penned a two-page letter to the commissioner (me—gulp!), saying that he had been humiliated by the experience, before exiting the league.
In turn, I felt like a heel, knowing I had violated the true spirit of Rule No. 1. (But never again.)
5. Publicly Note All Scoring or Rules Changes That Occur After the Draft
The quickest way to lose the trust and respect of your fellow owners—blog floggings aside—is to change the league scoring rules after the draft, without their consent (majority vote) and/or without making the changes public.
This is one of the most unconscionable acts of being a commissioner, an absolute no-no.
6. Always Put the League's Welfare Above Your Own Interests
There is no glory to being a fantasy commissioner.
No pay. No pats on the back. No league meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. No pre-Super Bowl party or media summit two days before the title game.
It also won't help you win a championship (unless you cheat, of course).
It's just a simple, yet complicated labor of love for forward-thinking men and women who appreciate the innate beauty of a smoothly operated league—and one that offers a scintillating playoff (and payoff) at season's end.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.