Last year, my first ever playing fantasy football, I took home a fantasy football championship trophy. It was a great year, starting with the draft and ending in fantasy football immortality. After it all, I vowed to never partake in fantasy sports ever again. This is my story.
It started innocently. Upon receiving the CBS Sports Fantasy Football Champion t-shirt, I forged the signatures of every single fantasy player I used throughout the year onto the shirt, and wrote made-up notes from them to myself saying things like:
“Great year Max, you’re an awesome fantasy football player!”
Marion Barber, your RB1
And, “Thanks for the mid-year waiver-wire pick up, hope to see you in the draft next year!”
It was really sick (not the cool “sick”, the mentally ill one), but I wore it proudly to all the postseason fantasy football parties. These parties were crazy. I didn’t even know they existed, and as someone new to the fame and fortune that came with winning a fantasy football championship, I gave in easily to the pressures that accompanied these soirees.
They combined fantasy football groupies alongside an endless supply of caffeinated substances that would keep the fantasy chatter and stat checking fueled throughout the night. You name it—coffee, Red Bull, Adderall, it was there. These people never stopped, it was fantasy football time all the time, and the lifestyle started to take a toll on me.
The worst part of all this was that I had become a jerk; a conceited fantasy football know-it-all who had alienated his friends through shameless self-promotion in the fantasy realm.
Even worse was that, during these parties, I would get all hopped up on caffeine and begin making absolutely absurd predictions. I would yell out things like, “Shaun Alexander is going to lead the league in rushing,” after he was cut by the Seahawks and “Bryon Leftwich is the TRUTH, watch out Big Ben!”
Fellow fantasy footballers thought I was insane, and I was becoming the laughing stock of the fantasy circuit; a cautionary tale about the effects the fast-paced world of fantasy football can have on a young player. I had hit rock bottom and knew I had to get help.
I decided to consult my parents, who advised me to evaluate my current state to my life Before Fantasy Football (B.F.F., not to be mistaken with “best friend forever”). B.F.F. I was a loyal fan of the New York Football Giants.
What I realized was that fantasy football had drained my passion for the G-Men. With the likes of Tony Romo, MBIII, and the Dallas Defense lining up for me electronically on Sundays, I had nearly converted into a Dallas Cowboys fan; a proverbial sin in the realm of New York Giants faithful.
Furthermore, I was obsessively checking the scores of my fantasy football matchups rather than settling into my couch nook to enjoy the televised games on Sundays.
It didn’t stop there. During the week, I would be continually checking Rotoworld.com, ESPN.com, and BleacherReport.com to get the latest fantasy football updates. This was especially time consuming and draining, as I basically found myself reading and re-reading the same exact fantasy football news and statistical commentary on different sites.
Furthermore, B.F.F., I considered myself a fan of the game. Someone who looked forward to witnessing moments of on-field greatness as a result of elaborate systems developed by coaching at its highest level. That’s what the NFL used to mean to me, but now it was simply a vehicle fueling my statistical addiction.
Now, I can’t knock everything about fantasy football. Because of it, my NFL knowledge had grown considerably. Players, stats, and matchups all seem to have been encoded into my brain, to the point in which I could regurgitate these facts without hesitation (kind of like that scene in Old School where Will Ferrell blacks-out during the debate).
Additionally, fantasy football helped keep me from losing my sanity while working as a corporate paralegal this past year. As you can imagine, there wasn’t a whole lot to be done, given the current state of our economy, hence I occupied myself by devouring fantasy football news and notes daily.
The results of my evaluation seemed to overwhelmingly make a case against fantasy football. So I cleaned myself up and quit cold turkey. I stopped going to the fantasy football ragers and set my computer’s parental controls to prohibit me from visiting any fantasy-related websites.
Fortunately, this was all happening alongside the Giants' incredible Super Bowl run. With the fantasy season over (I refused the invitation to join a playoff league), I was able to watch the games with friends and was uninhibited by the need to check my fantasy team’s progress. In retrospect, if the Giants hadn’t gone all the way, I’m not sure what would have happened to me. Big Blue saved my life.
When I received the invitation for this year’s fantasy league, I immediately deleted it. I had made the decision not to play; however, I was coaxed in to it by my friends who needed a 12th man for our 12-team league.
While my competitiveness has once again compelled me to frequent fantasy news sites, monitor the waiver-wire, and consistently re-assess my lineup, the feeling now is different.
No longer a wide-eyed rookie fantasy leaguer, I feel more confident in my ability to control my fantasy appetite. Maybe it's because I’m a year older, a year wiser, a year more mature, but the difference is apparent. And in my opinion, I owe this transformation to the G-Men.
On Sundays I now concern myself with the Giants first, my fantasy team second, and my wife and kids third. I have a new lease on life, and I owe it all to Eli and his goofy grin, Plax and his tardiness, Osi and Strahan and their ballin’ dance, and the rest of the New York Giants.