Friday, December 28, 2007

Just Call Me Champ

Though I have no way to prove it, I'm confident that I've been in a fantasy football league longer than 98% of those who are in one now. When we were seniors in high school in 1977, my best friend and I were given a set of rules on organizing and running a league by one of our managers at McDonalds. I have to admit that the game made no sense to me the first time I read the rules, and that stupidity manifested itself in the lousy team that I drafted in our inaugural year. My first pick was Bert Jones of the Baltimore Colts, and my second pick was Terry Metcalf of the St. Louis Cardinals. Great players for teams that no longer exist, although they both had disappointing years (at least from a fantasy standpoint) in 1977. My record that first year was 4-10, and two of those "wins" were my bye weeks. The first champ was a fellow by the name of Mike Gowen, who couldn't have cared less about football but really enjoyed compiling statistics and did a wonderful job of picking every little-known, touchdown-scoring player in the entire damn NFL.

When my friend went away to college in 1978, I began running the league, and with the exception of the two years I was at college in Berkeley, I've run a league every year since. We've gone through a lot of participants over the years, at times running 8, 10, and 12-team leagues. For the past decade we've had a solid core of 10, and this year expanded back to 12 with a couple of newbies brought in by current members of the league.

My team this year was just OK, with Drew Brees at quarterback, and an unfortunate surplus of running backs - Shaun Alexander, Marshawn Lynch, Jamal Lewis and Edgerrin James. I say "unfortunate" because outside of the bye weeks, I could never figure out who to start, and most of the time batted only .500. My receivers were also just OK, although Braylon Edwards and Chris Chambers kept things respectable.

Luckily for me, this year's league was remarkably well-balanced, and I managed to sneak into the playoffs, in sixth place, with a record of 7-6. And from that point on, I became the luckiest fantasy player in the country. Playing the best team in the league in the semi-finals, it just happened to be the week that Dallas got beaten by Philadelphia, and his big three of Romo, Owens and Julius Jones brought him a fat total of zero. And in the final, I played the team that used to call itself the "Packer Backers," this year featuring Favre, Driver, Jennings and Crosby, not to mention Green Bay's defense and special teams.

So, even though I didn't exactly set the world on fire either of those weeks myself, I managed to win both games, and can call myself Champion for the fifth time, and the first since 1993.

And on the trophy, it won't say how I won, just that I did.

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