I can't do Fantasy Football.
I have tried. I know I would like it, but every time I have tried it, I always end up as "That Guy". You know the guy that hasn't updated his roster in weeks. The guy that has 7 starters inactive and 1 that isn't in the league anymore. The guy that gets a polite email at the end of the season from everyone else in the league asking that you please leave the league. That's me when it comes to fantasy.
It's ok, I get made fun of for it, but I accept that. One good thing though about being inept at Fantasy Football is that I can remove myself from it and see how it effects the NFL without the bias of having anything emotionally invested in it. And one thing I am noticing more and more is that Fantasy Football is killing the NFL's good versus evil morality play.
All sports, like great stories and movies, are driven by some sort of good versus evil conflict. Its what drives the overarching story lines and provides reason for the characters to change, adapt, and become more dynamic.
The NFL has traditionally thrived on just this. The Eagles hate the Cowboys who hate the Redskins who hate the Eagles. The Bears hate the Packers. Everyone hates the Raiders. It gives fans extra reason to cheer, to be more emotionally invested in their team. Nobody wants to see their team be defeated, especially when its by a reviled enemy.
In the past, there has been no silver lining if your a Steelers fan and you lose to the Raiders. "We have to beat the Raiders. No excuses, we just have to." It just wasn't an acceptable outcome. The Steelers are everything right about the NFL, while the Raiders are everything evil about the NFL. The story sells itself.
Today, because of the Fantasy impact, there is a silver lining. "We have to beat the Raiders, but if we did lose it wouldn't bother me as much if Janikowski kicked four FG's because then I will win my game this week." And its that silver lining that is blurring the distinction between good and evil in the NFL. Devoting for teams is still there, but its blind and unflinching devotion has been softened by a new devotion to the individual.
So why is it?
Ready for the big secret. People hate sharing. They like having things all to themselves, especially if it is the nicest, newest, or best thing. Try as any NFL fan might, they have to share their favorite NFL team with thousands, if not millions of other fans. But each fantasy team is uniquely its owners. It belongs to no one else and its success is more a result of the fan than any touchdown his "real" team's quarterback has ever thrown.
Evil is no longer the team your team is playing. Evil is the Minnesota Vikings defense one week, Chris Johnson the next week, and Peyton Manning the next. Evil doesn't wear a specific color or run a specific offense.
Think about it. It changes the whole dynamic of promoting the NFL as well as the development of rivalries amongst fans and players. Think about a team like the Houston Texans. Does anyone in the world hate them. They are like the most un-hateable team ever. Always around .500, fantasy studs at QB and WR. I challenge you to find any team to have a true morality play with the Texans.
Now I know this article isn't for everyone. Some will undoubtedly read and come back with "I am a lifelong Vikings fan and I hate the Packers and I always will hate the Packers." Ya, I get it, but if you had to pick Aaron Rodgers or Tavaris Jackson in your fantasy draft, who would you choose?