Fantasy football is the latest craze sweeping the nation. People from around the world are becoming owners of teams and trying to prove that they can take their team to the top. It pins friends and against friends and strangers against strangers in a week-long battle of trash talk and football. It has turned people who can not stand football into avid fans and screaming viewers of all games possible. For this football fan, fantasy football has forced me to do the unthinkable.
I grew a a big fan of the Green Bay Packers. I remember the days of Brett Favre running up and down the field after a touchdown pass. I remember Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens running into the end zone. I remember Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman catching the ball and finding open space to run. I remember Reggie White clubbing his way to a sack. I remember grave-digging, Lambeau-leaping, gun-slinging, helmet-raising, championship-winning Packers football. To this day, I get chills watching Desmond Howard return the kick and Andre Rison streak down the middle of the field during Super Bowl highlights.
But with the invention of fantasy football, my fan hood has decreased a bit. I find myself cheering for the likes of the Bears defense or even worse, Brett Favre on the Vikings. Recently, the Packers were facing the Detroit Lions and I was cheering for Lions receiver Calvin Johnson to catch touchdowns AGAINST the Packers. Yes, a die hard Packers fan rooting against the Packers for the love of money.
My mentality on football has changed from as long as the Packers win to as long as the Packers win and my fantasy players dominate each week. I have even had times where I was happy with the Packers losing because they guy who beat them for the winning touchdown was on my fantasy roster and won me that week. Looking at it now, that is terrible. I have sacrificed my own team fan hood for the idea that me winning fantasy football is better than my team winning the Super Bowl.
Fantasy football has also created a monster within me. I find myself getting upset and sick at teams, players and games that I normally would not have been watching. For example, I lost this past week after leading by 14 points heading into the final game of the week. I needed the New England Patriots defense to score less than 14 points. In my work league, it is difficult for a defense to score more than ten. I thought I had it wrapped up. Instead, New England blocked two kicks and score 2 touchdowns on special teams. I lost by 16 points. I was upset. I felt like throwing my computer across the room when Pat Chung blocked the second kick and returned it for a touchdown. I got mad at a game I normally would not have been watching. In that aspect, fantasy football has allowed me to get more into the overall sport of football and not just how the Packers and their rivals are doing.
Fantasy football has also made some of my friends watch football. You might not think that is a big deal but these are people who have sworn off football in the past. I have this friend who now asks me who she should start between Philip Rivers and Eli Manning instead of how does my dress look, which is a huge plus. Fantasy football has also taught people about the game of football and has generated an interest that the National Football League could not do on its own.
Fantasy football has become the "it" thing to do. People from around the world are coming together to partake in this "sport." It has made die hard fans become die hard fans with soft spots for players on their fantasy roster. It has taught people about the game. It has made people sick after a crushing defeat. But most of all, it has made this Green Bay Packers fan do the unthinkable: Cheer for the Bears and the Vikings.