Are you ready for some Football?

Football is not a game but a religion, a metaphysical island of fundamental truth in a highly verbalized, disguised society, a throwback of 30,000 generations of anthropological time.
-Arnold Mandell

Men are clinging to football on a level we aren't even aware of. For centuries, we ruled everything, and now, in the last ten minutes, there are all these incursions by women. It's our Alamo.
-Tony Kornheiser

Well, hello, hello, hello. Aren't we looking lovely today? I see you are all dressed up, presumably because we're only two days away from a really big holiday. (And I'd like to say: you are looking mahvelous!)

As an experiment, I asked Sparky Duck to, for the first time in history, take two International Days in a row. He agreed and came up with August 24: International Fantasy Football Cram Day and August 25: International Murder Fantasy Football Owners Day.

As to Sunday's festivities, it seemed only natural that I create the holiday. However, I did not want to be perceived as self-serving, so I asked Lady Jane Scarlett, and she came up with August 26: International Bow Down Before the Hyperion Day. (I swear on a stack of coloring books that I have not even read it yet.)

Over in Monkey Barn I have some more gift ideas, this time for people who love pens. (Caution: the story may make you cry.)

Today's column is about Fantasy Football. I promise you that even if you hate football, you will like the column, if only to laugh at me. Plus, if you read to the end there is a chance to help name Hyperion's team this year! Go, team!


#464 Are you ready for some Football?

For the past five years I've been playing fantasy football online with the same group of people. We call it the SFL, the Simpsons Football League, for reasons that nobody can quite remember, other than the obvious fact that The Simpsons are cool, as are we. (Our divisions are Old Springfield, New Springfield and Shelbyville, and up until this year, I was in Old Springfield. Now I am in New Springfield. I have no idea why I am telling you this, other than I get paid by the word.)

Previous attempts at fantasy football had mostly sucked, but the SFL is one is great, and this is mainly this was because of Bear, our league commissioner and my good friend. (Recent Comment wars aside, we are good friends.) He set up a great league that had traditional rules and scoring blended with some new ideas he had. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they did not, but Bear was never afraid to scrap what did not work and move on, and embraced input always. (Although, he does remain the ironhanded commissioner at times, enough so that behind his back we call him Mein Führher.)

Trying to explain Fantasy Football to someone who doesn't play or isn't even interested in football is like trying to explain beef jerky to a Vegan with no teeth. They just cannot possibly understand what the attraction would be. Kaida does her best to seem interested, but I know that deep down her laments of becoming a "football girlfriend" are probably overblown; I think she is secretly relieved I have not made her join.

It is a strange thing, even for a football fan. Whereas once you went from rooting for your favorite team to do well, in fantasy football, sometimes you are so wrapped up in the individual players' stats that you forget who won the game. I might be watching, say, the Tennessee Titans vs. the Indianapolis Colts, two teams I have virtually zero interest in. However, I have a running back from Indy and a linebacker from Tennessee, so my interest is not how well Indy is doing, but what percentage of the plays the Running Back gets to carry the ball. Moreover, I'm only really happy when the Titans' linebacker tackles him! Tell me that won't warp a man.

When you really break it down, Fantasy Football taps into the Great Longing that American Males have to be a part of fantastic athletic performance. You already see this, with how many people refer to their favorite team as WE. "Yeah, we are going to have a really great season this year with that new running back coming up and…."

I never get tired of laughing at these people, and usually throwing in a derisive "What position do you play?" Maybe—and it's a big maybe—if you were attending the school at that time could you say "we." Otherwise, it just seems like desperate opportunism.

But what do I know? I think Fantasy Football taps into that same zeitgeist. In my current league, I think I'm the only one who played high school football. That does not mean I am a better athlete than the others are (I can pretty much guarantee that in my current state I am the worst), or that I even know the most about football. However, I think there is a desire that men have—and possibly some women—to connect to these team sports, especially when they did not have the opportunity to play themselves in a meaningful way.

Fantasy Football certainly provides that. You are your team's owner, responsible for naming your team and creating your "logo." You draft all the players, and decide who "starts" each week and who rides the bench. It is easy to develop a feeling that the guys really do play for you, or that they are purposely messing up because they hate you. (This sounds bizarre to most of you, I know, but anyone who plays Fantasy Football is nodding along in agreement.)

By drafting and then playing these athletes, you start to feel a sense of belonging, as if you are somehow responsible for their success or failure. You feel responsible for them in ways that make no sense. There was even a year when I cut a player for getting a DUI. The NFL did nothing to him, and he was a great player, but I didn't want his negative vibes affecting the rest of my guys. How nutty is that?

Actually, that is a good segue into my draft story. Every year we run a draft that takes about 10 days. Each player gets 12 hours per pick. At the outset, everyone is excited and the picks fly by. However, about the 8th round things slow down, and by the 14th round (there are 21) we are creeping. It does not take long for the Message Board to light up with complaints. People are so excited to pick that they can't help passionately ripping someone who—god forbid—might not be able to draft a third defensive back for another 4 fours.

Anyway, this year Bear decided to do a "live" draft, and instead of 12 hours per pick, we had 2 minutes. This amped up the excitement, but also the pressure, as you needed to have your Draft Rankings ready to go so you would know whom you wanted to pick. (Any competent fantasy footballer spends a fair amount of time reading all the draft information out there and then ranking each player by how well they might do and also each position that we play, forgetting that everyone else is doing the same thing, which usually leaves it all to luck. Could we be bigger nerds?)

The draft started and things were going well. I had my rankings all ready and I was watching the draft happening live, jawing on the Message Board with the guys and generally having a good time. Then comes round 13, and for some reason the computer screws up. Instead of taking the Walt Harris, the DB from San Fran that I wanted, the computer takes Derrick Brooks, a LB from Tampa Bay!

Brooks has been a great player in years' past, but is not supposed to be as good this year. Plus, he was nursing a hamstring injury that no one was sure the extent of. Most importantly, I had already drafted two top five Line Backers (LBs), and you would NEVER draft a third LB before you had all your starters and possibly some Running Back (RB) and Wide Receiver (WR) backups. (Again, everyone who plays Fantasy Football is nodding along at my obvious statement while the rest of you are like "Huh?" I suppose I should mention that you can only start two LBs per game.)

As soon as I realized that the computer had inexplicably drafted a LB for me I tried to get the Draft paused. I just wanted to figure out what was going on and fix it before someone else selected. I even started USING ALL CAPS LIKE THIS AND SWEARING IN AN MOST UNDIGNIFIED WAY. Unfortunately, that time pressure works on everyone and I could not get my feelings understood in time and soon enough it was back to me for a 14th round pick, and if I did not select someone soon I would lose that! I picked Walt Harris but inside I seethed.

Two rounds later, the exact same thing happened! A FOURTH LB was selected ahead of my planned pick, and again no one would stop the draft to figure out what was going on!

Now, I have to admit that in the greater scheme of things losing two picks in the 13th and 16th rounds of a Fantasy Football Draft does not a crisis make. Even in the Fantasy Football world, it is not really that huge a deal. Yes, you would like to take whom you were eyeing, but life goes on. But have you ever gotten so into things, and then it goes wrong and it feels like no one will listen and you just get totally frustrated and start looking for clock towers?

Yeah. That was me. I think back on it now and I roll my eyes that I lost my composure like that, but in my defense, I had no sleep, my back hurt, and c'mon: FOUR LINEBACKERS????

By the 21st Round I was bitter. I said, "Screw it. If the computer won't let me pick, then they can just pick for me." The 21st Round really isn't that big a deal, and for me it was a symbolic protest against the horrible injustice. (I hope you can tell that by now I'm being melodramatic. I got over it really quickly. Heck, Bear even called me a couple hours later to apologize for the glitches and offer me a sister any time I wanted one, proving that he is a class act all the way. After the draft I told people I planned on going to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard but I had no doubt that Bear would work it out so I ended up with a Mr. Misty Freeze.)

Anyway, the computer drafting for me is going to take the highest ranked player. How did the computer figure that? Well, they took the highest scoring player from last year still available. They did this without regards as to whether that player is actually going to play this year. So my 21st Round pick was….Michael Vick.

When they saw that everyone just laughed. A perfect end to a perfect day. But seriously: I'm over it. Mostly. My team as it stands:

QB – Tom Brady
RB – Joseph Addai; Adrian Peterson
WR – Donte Stallworth; Santana Moss
TE – Antonio Gates
LB – London Fletcher-Baker; Antonio Pierce
DL – Julius Peppers; Will Smith
DB – Adrian Wilson; Walt Harris
K – Jason Hanson
RESERVES – Trent Green; Brandon Jackson; Reuben Droughns; Mushin Muhammed; Chris Henry; Derrick Brooks; EJ Henderson; Michael Vick (who will be dropped as soon as the Waiver Wires are opened)


Before I get to that, I wanted to say that the real reason Fantasy Football is so much fun is the community of guys you play with. We have a Message Board that is more fun than the games sometimes, and we talk all sorts of trash to each other. Trying to explain to Kaida some of the jokes and such has gone over like a dead duck. I'm not trying to be sexist in the slightest but I really wonder how leagues work with girls in them, given that girls generally cannot handle the vulgarity and put downs that guys routinely give to each other without blinking or taking offense. (I am going to find out next year, though, since I'm always looking to advance the cause of Feminism.) Some of us were friends before, but all of us have become, if not friends, at least comrades in arms. That's what sports is supposed to be about. Well, that and tackling people. Maybe someday we will do an in-person draft, and I can find out.


Every year one of my favorite things is my team name. I love changing the team name, so much so that Bear had to institute the "Hyperion Rule," meaning that once the season starts you can only change your team name if you are the high scorer that week.

For the draft, I had the best team name. One of the guys is starting a wine importing business, and several of the guys are coincidentally linked to the name Margo. (Two have mothers with that name; one a wife.) I took these two facts together and named my team "Nothing sweeter than a '53 Margaux." In case you didn't know, that's a wine. HOW AWESOME IS THAT????!!!!!!11

(Pretty effin' awesome!)

But I can't have that be my team name for the season. (Right now I am BÏSTDÅGG ACQUISITIONS, which some of you will recognize from Fagin Dupree, but that is just a place holder.

Last season I started with Iranian Jews for Jebus, and then when I was the high scorer one week (the highest score of that season, he said with pride), I changed my name to Fairy Sluts and Wizard Pimps, after some figurines that Kaida got me.

I need something good. Our league has had some weird team names in the league over the years. Here are just some of the reprintable ones:

Light Warriors; Monty's Isotopes; Spurrier's Unstoppable Fun 'n' Gun; Big Sexy Express; Jenn Aiel; Fire-Eaters; Belchin' Barneys; Farside Voodoo Kings; Metroid Petting Zoo; New World Order; Sandpiper Air, Biggus Dickus; Bobby Bowden's Bastion of Bastardry; Super Mario All Stars; Bastard Half-Elves; Grossalanga Jagermeister; Fuzzies; From Worst to First; Eight Ounce Gloves; The King of Jellies; ¢ash Money $killionaires; The Fantastapotamuses; Biloxi Injuns; DragonStone; 100,000 Agents Smiths Can't be Wrong; The Fantasy Falcons; One Term Presidents Inc.; Gary Coleman Hates You; The Decepticons; Stackin' Big Faces; The New Mailman; Madden Hexspinners; The Tale of How; Giraffes on a Hot Air Balloon; Julius Jones Hates You; LEGO Maniacs

So I ask you, I beseech you: help Hyperion out. Help me name my team and you will vicariously become a part of my team, which I'm only vicarious a part of anyway. How cool is that? If I pick your name I will do something extra special for you, like knit you a sweater or write a story for you or not seduce your family members. Cannot ask for a better deal than that.

August 24, 2007

Remember: August 26 is Hyperion Day. You only have two more shopping days left, although I do take late gifts.

ALSO: THERE WILL BE POSTS ALL WEEKEND, SO CHECK BACK OFTEN!!!! (Will there be nudity? Only time will tell…..)


Sparky Duck said...

Balco of Shadows, since you love BB so much?

Looking over your draft, your starting WRs would scare me. Donte the Human Hamstring and Santana no Full Season Moss.

Our draft is an auction draft, which is great because everyone has a shot at LT, but it also means you all have to be in the same spot at the same time, easier said then done. I have another week to cram

Dragon said...

How about Bear's Bastards?

Hyperion said...

Sparky Duck - Balco of Shadows is funny. I haven't yet gotten my "defense of BB" column written (because I just HATE to be topical), but a BB-flavored fantasy name isn't a bad idea.

Dragon - I love it! Of course, Bear might want it.