Winks Thinks: The Eighth Round Blunder Edition
When you have a group of friends that have been together for a very long time, it’s not uncommon for you use those friends as a barometer for how successful you are in your own life. When you are around them, questions may emerge in your head. Do I make more money than these guys? Do I have a better job than the rest of them? Is my girlfriend hotter than his girlfriend? Do I have a better house? Did I go to a better school? Am I overall just a more awesome dude to be around? While these are fair questions to ask, a lot of them are subjective and therefore they become irrelevant. Because no matter how hard you try to measure the tale of the tape between yourself and the gentlemen you surround yourself with, only one stat determines who the true Alpha Dog in the group is. The answer, of course, is who is your reigning fantasy football champion.
If that’s the measuring stick, then I am bringing up the anchor in my group of friends. While I’ve had success in many fantasy leagues throughout the years, I can never quite figure out how to conquer the one league I care about, which is the fantasy football league I’ve had with my high school buddies for nine years now. In all the years since this league has been formed, I do not have a very good track record. You see, not only I am not good in this league, I’m actually quite terrible. Despite the fact that half of our league ends up making the playoffs, I haven’t seen the postseason since 2002, the year I lost in the championship game.
I remember that day oh so vividly, as it was actually the day when I attended a regular season Packers game for the first time. For whatever reason, I wasn’t blessed with the opportunity to go to Lambeau Field until I was 18 years old, but me and the boys made the trek up to Green Bay to watch the Packers take on the visiting Buffalo Bills. It was quite the day for me, as not only was I finally gaining admission to the Frozen Tundra but I was also getting to watch two of my fantasy players live in action on the day of my championship battle. One of my players that season was beloved Packers tight Bubba Franks. The other, my hero at the time and my fantasy quarterback, Brett Favre.
Of course, if you’ve ever written anything that I’ve scribed on paper or even spoke to me for more than sixty seconds you’ll know the deep burning hatred that I now have for that man. The way he held the Packers hostage offseason after offseason, even during the summer when he actually retired, was something that did not sit well with me. The way that he then unretired and tried to explain how he was forced out of town wasn’t something I was fond of either. The droves of fans that basically burned their Packers allegiance to follow him was something I couldn’t comprehend, and when Favre finally did the unthinkable and became a member of the hated Minnesota Vikings, all ties with my former hero were cut forever. Add to that fact that he won’t even utter the words “Green Bay” in interviews and the fact that he beat the Packers twice last season, there’s no way that I’m ever going to root for this guy again.
But back in 2002, he was my guy, my quarterback. Not only was he leading the Packers to winning records year after year, but he was leading my team – “Old Bag O Donuts” – to my fantasy football championship game. And I was thrilled to be watching him in person.
Back in 2002, the NFL hadn’t quite grasped the concept that people needed constant fantasy football updates even when they were attending a live game, and quite honestly I’m not even sure I had a cell phone at that time, so there was no chance for me to get updates of what was going on with any of my fantasy players or my opponents fantasy players while at the game. All that I could do was root for Brett Favre and Bubba Franks and hope that Eric Moulds had a crappy game, as I was playing against the Bills receiver. Thankfully, Moulds only had 45 yards, but my guys didn’t do much either. I ended up getting just one touchdown from Favre and Bubba went catchless, so my work was cut for me.
After the game, I drove back home in the same car as the friend that I was up against, Gweeds (if any of you still know what The Bucky Channel is, he’s also the guy that helps me write for that site). We still had no idea how the rest of our players were doing, but thanks to ESPN radio we quickly found out that any lead I thought I had was gone. My euphoria of being at my first Packers game and contending in my league’s fantasy football championship game quickly turned into anger and sadness. Favre wasn’t able to get the job done for me, but neither were any of my other players. As disappointed as I was that day, I didn’t worry too much. If I could make the league final in the very first year, I was sure that I had a bright future ahead of me.
But here I stand now, eight years later. Not just without a league trophy, but without any other playoff appearances since then. I’ve become the Dan Marino of this league, basically. And even though I’ve been close (three more Jermichael Finley catches against the Ravens last year and I’m in), I’ve been on the front porch looking in for way too long. So this year, I’ve decided that I needed to do whatever it took to get back to the playoffs. I decided I was going to throw all personal feelings and grudges against players out the window, and look at my team like a business. I was the CEO, my players are the workers that I never need to have face-to-face contact with. I’m going to hire based on numbers, not on personal feeling. It’s a different strategy than I’ve had in the past, but as we’ve seen, the strategy I’ve had in the past wasn’t working.
There was one exception though. As I brought out my cheat sheets and my fantasy books, the first thing I did was cross of names of guys that were injured (Sidney Rice, Ben Tate) or cut (Antonio Bryant). I did also cross one another name of off that last though, because even though he got me in the past to where I’m looking to be in the present, I knew that I was not going to be taking Brett Favre. No way, no chance, no how. I just hated him too much to even think about it.
The other strategy this year was just to take the best available player, and since we are in a points per reception league, I needed guys that could catch passes and rack up the points for me. But I also wanted to take a quarterback early, more specifically Aaron Rodgers. Last year, I took two quarterbacks that were of roughly the same level fantasy wise in Tony Romo and Matt Ryan. The problem with that was I never knew which one of them to start, and for that reason I ended up always starting the wrong guy. Since I’m drafting in a league though where everyone is a Packers fan, getting Aaron Rodgers at the eight spot was going to be impossible (he ended up going four). When the pick got to me, I still did want a quarterback and the night before I had talked myself into taking Drew Brees in the first round. When push came to shove though, I took Stephen Jackson and decided to address my quarterback needs a bit later.
Later never really came though. DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Dallas Clark were all guys that I started selecting well before I even considered a quarterback once Rodgers was gone. Once round five and six came, I started thinking about the level of quarterbacks that were available. The Matt Ryan, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning type of guys were left on the board, and my focus quickly turned to Carson Palmer. I like the Bengals, I like their offense, and I like Carson Palmer so I wanted him back on my team. He was my target.
One pick after I decided that however, Palmer was gone. And even though his name was already crossed off of my list, I knew deep down that Brett Favre was the best available quarterback as I sat there in round six. Just acknowledging the fact that he was the best available pained me, but when looking at what he did stat wise last year, there’s no question that he was the guy that regular fantasy players would go for. I wrestled with the decision to take Favre in round six and ultimately I knew that I just couldn’t do it. After all of the feelings and postings I’ve made filled with hatred regarding him, I knew I couldn’t just do a 180 and draft the guy that I had bashed so frequently. So I drafted Reggie Bush for his reception numbers and moved on.
In round seven, the need for a quarterback still lingered and Brett Favre was still on the board. By now, everyone else in my draft knew I was wrestling with this decision and were begging me to draft Favre because they knew how much I’d hate myself if I did. How could I do it though? Even with my strategy of treating fantasy football like a business this season, how could I draft someone that had basically become my 2010 version Euro Trip?
(Side story – In college we had this movie theatre that played older releases and they charged you like two dollars to watch them. The caveat to this setup besides the low price was that they served beer. It was a good way to have a few and catch a flick before a night out on the town. Well, one night my roommates and I decided to go watch Euro Trip, which turned out to be a terrible movie regardless. However, the girl I was obsessed with also happened to be there that night. But so was her boyfriend. She was sort of, sort of not, in our circle of friends so the guys I went with all sat near her and her crew, but I decided to be a crybaby and sit nine rows up, and I didn’t acknowledge her. From then on, when anyone would ever mention the movie Euro Trip, I would put on a big production about how much I hated it and how it was the worst movie ever. Granted, my feelings were skewed because of the setting, but the production I put on when the movie was mentioned is the same kind of ordeal I put people through when they mention Favre. A lot of swearing, a lot of wild hand gestures, and sometimes some unexpected tears. But it’s a production nevertheless.)
So instead I went with my boy Ahmad Bradshaw in round seven and prayed that someone would take Brett Favre before the picks came back to me in round eight. Nobody needed a quarterback though that drafted before me, and ten minutes later I uttered the words I’d never thought I’d again have to say – “I’m drafting Brett Favre”.
Honestly, of all of the things that I’ve ever done in my life, nothing has been more hypocritical than drafting Brett Favre. The thought of drafting a guy that I hate so much makes me sick to my stomach, and after the draft I definitely downed more than a few Captain and Cokes to try to forget about what I just did. But when I woke up the morning after, I didn’t feel too much regret. I’m drafting a guy that is going to help my team win. I’m drafting a guy who has helped me win in the past. I’m all bidness this year, and Favre is my quarterback.
Still, next Thursday night I’m going to be settling into my recliner watching the Vikings and the Saints, and I’m going to find myself rooting for Brett Favre. Nine months ago, I was so elated that Favre threw away the NFC Championship that I bought a Saints NFC Champions T-shirt five minutes after the game ended. Now I have to root for this guy? I have to celebrate when he throws a touchdown? Even if I don’t jump up and down after I see him score six, I’m still going to be a bit satisfied inside. I’m still going to give a half smirk when I see him throwing TD’s, even though I wish I wasn’t. I’m about to go into the 2010 fantasy season rooting for the one guy I have hated more than anything for the past two years. And I’m not quite comfortable with that. But I guess if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and that is the mantra for my season this year. As much as it pains me to admit, even though I am in no shape or form a Brett Favre fan, I will be rooting for his success this season. That just eats me up inside.
But hey, if things go wrong with Favre, at least Jay Cutler is my backup quarterback.
Reasons why I didn’t get this article posted sooner: I was watching “Baggage” on the Game Show Network, I was looking up the career highlights of Peerless Price, I had to buy a Powerball ticket, I watched two episodes of Tosh.0, I had to bid on Final Fantasy Tactics on eBay (for a friend!), I tweeted about how I was going to be getting this done sooner, watched Zoobily Zoo clips on YouTube, watched another Hard Knocks, Skyped with my friend Lisa, researched the Big Ten realignment, nearly ordered some tight t-shirts that aparently make your gut look thinner, and tried to find out who the chick in the Napa Auto Parts commercial was.
See you at the Fondy Challenge Cup….