Baseball may be America’s pastime, but football is her heart and soul.
A quick comparison between the World Series and the Super Bowl confirms this. “Super Bowl Party” is a household term; a World Series Party is not.
On any given Sunday, you generally won’t find folks wearing the jersey of their favorite baseball player. Foodwise, the Super Bowl has spawned dishes created solely for the purpose of noshing while watching the Big Game. Is anyone making the family’s secret recipe chili to watch the Pirates take on the Orioles? No?
None of this was on my mind when I started my inaugural fantasy football season in 2012. I could care less about tradition. All I wanted was to win. The stakes were heightened considerably by the fact that my husband and I were newlyweds and “happened” to be in the same league.
I started off well, winning three out of my first four games. I was elated. Yet in week 5, things started to go south, badly. My star wide receiver, Jordy Nelson, failed to produce. Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a season-ending ankle sprain, leaving me without a key running back. My quarterback Matt Ryan choked and put up a measly 8 points.
It was alright, I figured. Everyone had their off days and we had to take our losses along with the wins.
But my players continued hemorrhaging until my starting lineup looked more like an injury report. I searched the waiver wires, adding and discarding players in an attempt to shore up my struggling team. I listened to radio programs dedicated to fantasy football advice. I chatted with coworkers, debating various defensive lineups and whether or not it was worth handcuffing pairs of likely receivers.
Two things happened. First, I began having conversations that had previously been unimaginable. Is a healthy Heath Miller better than a less-than-100% Jimmy Graham? Will Matt Ryan come out of his slump? Is Beanie Wells ever going to have a breakout week?
Secondly, I could be fickle. I couldn’t change my job, my house, my car, or my spouse. But by god, I could change my lineup. I blew through men faster than Elizabeth Taylor in her prime.
Things came to a head in week 13. I was playing my husband on what happened to be the weekend of our first wedding anniversary. I needed a win, and I had just the weapon to get me there: Robert Griffin III in his very first season with the Washington Redskins. With stakes high, I turned to an expert source on which quarterback to start. Via Twitter, Fran Tarkenton kindly congratulated me and advised me to go with Matt Ryan over RGIII. I did. I lost.
I don’t blame Fran. I ended the season 2012 season 7-6, which felt pretty good, all things considered. Because there is always next year with more players, more opportunities, and yes, more fantasy.