Some obsessions can be beneficial. As a fantasy football addict for some 35 years, I certainly believe that.
Some obsessions can be beneficial. As a fantasy football addict for some 35 years, I certainly believe that. The time (and zero $) spent on my adult hobby seems justified. A diehard fan since childhood, I enjoy being a gridiron coach, general manager and owner during the NFL season—win or lose.
Each September I renew my imaginary life, immersed in a gaming world shared by hundreds of thousands nationwide. We predict how real professional athletes will perform in NFL games. While most fantasy football leagues (FFLs) are cash free, many offer six-figure prizes for winner-take-all champions. And there are countless independent leagues, where friends wager on their gridiron expertise. We devotees read magazines and study online media reports. We watch and listen as “analysts” guide our weekly lineups.
The Massé Maulers (whose moniker was inspired by boxer Jack Dempsey, the “Manassas Mauler”) have won 10 league championships. Yet I spend more time agonizing over outcomes than celebrating my successes. I’m constantly second-guessing my decisions even after a victory. FFL memories—good and bad—endure long after each season ends.
I recall key plays that determined both wins (squeakers or blowouts) and losses (dreaded “perfect storm” defeats or crushing nail-biters). I lost one Super Bowl by a single point when an opponent’s receiver caught a TD pass during “garbage time.” But in another season, I won our league championship in the opening minutes of a Buffalo Bills game when quarterback Jim Kelly hit wideout Andre Reed on a long TD bomb.
Our lives as fantasy football team owners include a litany of caught or dropped passes, long runs or fumbles, interceptions, sacks and goal-line stands … such as when Dallas running back Emmitt Smith was stuffed on fourth down in a playoff game. In the real world, the Cowboys lost that Sunday. In my fantasy football world, I won because Smith didn’t score. My FFL opponent was a distinguished Stanford communication professor named Steven Chaffee. As a fantasy football rookie, he had compiled an amazing record and was projected to win the Super Bowl that season. And he would have if Emmitt Smith had scored that touchdown. Years later at a journalism educators conference, I greeted Dr. Chaffee. He identified me not as Professor Massé from Ball State University but simply as the Maulers, who had defeated him by the slimmest of margins.
To non-believers this may all seem a colossal waste of time or an unhealthy obsession. For me it’s a way to continue enjoying football half a century after I stopped playing in high school. On NFL Sundays I can once again compete in the FFL. If I’m successful and win a championship, I award myself one of those shiny trophies we received back in our youth football league days.
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