Hi everybody. I'm glad you decided to join me for Episode 4 of Fantasy Life, our online exploration of one fantasy football season and its cast of characters. If you need a review of any prior entries, here is a description of some of the owners in the Saving Private Buddy Ryan league from the first entry, as well as entries two and three covering the first four weeks of the NFL season.
As I had been doing two NFL weeks at a time to bring us up to speed, today's entry will get us even with real time. I'm sure you were very worried about that.
The focus of this entry is Dave. As I mentioned in Episode 1, Dave is the super-Machiavellian member of our league. A good guy most of the time, but someone whose motives should always be questioned. Dave's rule change proposals only benefit Dave. Dave's trade suggestions only benefit Dave. Dave's offer to get lunch if you get the gas only benefits Dave. And so on.
A couple of weeks ago, the other owners and I failed at keeping Dave away from Will, the naive doe-eyed owner of our league who likes to draft defenses and kickers early. Dave was able to convince Will to trade Andrew Luck to Dave in exchange for Alfred Morris under the guise that Will needed a running back and Andrew Luck was, at the time, sitting on Will's bench. Strangely, despite the usual worthlessness of any Mike Shanahan-coached running back, that trade didn't work out too badly for Will. That being said, especially since our league is a keeper league, Dave still got the better of the deal. Again, if Dave offers a deal, Dave is getting the better of that deal. Usually by a lot.
In NFL Week 5, with Andrew Luck coming off a nice game against Jacksonville and a bye and likely needing to pass a lot against the Packers, Dave decided to start Luck. The problem is that Dave is a huge Packers fan. Really, I should say it might be a "problem" for other people. I don't actually believe Dave gave this a second thought. He'd draft and root for the devil if Dave could get him as a late round sleeper.
Since Dave's wife was out of town that weekend, he decided to throw on his Donald Driver Packers jersey and head over to a bar that he had been to once or twice and knew hosted a bunch of Packers fans each Sunday. As Dave is in sales, it did not take him long to cozy up to a large group of Packers fans and become part of the crew. He even gave out some of his business cards and got a couple of leads on some new customers, two guys for whom Dave quickly bought a round of beer.
Anyway, the afternoon started smoothly enough. Dave cheered everytime the Packers scored in the first half, loudly enough that his new friends overlooked the fact that he seemed to be grumbling about the complete lack of scoring on the Colts side. The one time someone asked him why he didn't seem too happy that the Colts offense couldn't get in the end zone in the first half, he stated, as convincingly as he could, "hey, I'd at least like to see a good game. If it's a blowout, the wife's going to ask me why I didn't come home early." People chuckled and Dave was safe ... for a bit.
It began to unravel, however, in the second half. Dave didn't particularly cheer when things went well for the Colts, but he didn't have the same level of outrage as those around him. Dave thought no one noticed his small fist pump underneath a table when Luck throw a touchdown. Turns out someone did. He got a few strange looks when he seemed pissed off that Luck threw an INT early in the fourth -- this wasn't a matter of making it a good game anymore; at the time, it seemed like the Luck interception was going to stem the Colts rally and give the Packers the win.
Dave, had no idea that anyone was watching him more closely and the Packers were still winning, so he had no real reason to concentrate on keeping his pro-Luck emotions in check. Plus, he cheered wildly with everyone else when the Packers scored a touchdown with four and a half minutes left to take the lead. Of course he did. This gave his Packers a potential win and it made it more likely Luck would have to keep throwing. All in all, he felt he had no reason to suspect that he was being ... suspected.
He would tell me later: "I just forgot where I was." Unfortunately, the Packers fans in the bar did not forget. And, with 35 seconds left in the game, when Andrew Luck threw a touchdown to win the game for the Colts (and give Dave's fantasy football team a pretty nice lead as well), and Dave practically jumped out of his seat cheering, the gig was up. Accusations flew.
Some said he was a Colts fan just waiting for his opportunity to rub it in their faces -- although why a Colt fan would have actually gone into that game thinking the Colts would win and he would get such a chance is beyond me, nevermind the masochism of choosing to watch the game at a Packers bar. Some even accused Dave of doing something that he didn't do, but that I have no doubt Dave would do, which is that he pretended to be a Packers fan just to get some extra business. A "brilliant" idea according to Dave.
I imagine that only Dave's ability to fast-talk saved him from getting his ass kicked. He reported that there was some shoving. There was some spillage of beer. But thankfully no punches were thrown. Dave did leave his fleece sweatshirt draped over a chair and has asked me if I will go back to the bar to see if it is in some sort of lost and found. It has been made clear to Dave that he is not welcome back, and even though he realized that he left his fleece before he even made it to his car, Dave --wisely -- decided his life was worth more than some microfiber and wool.
In some ways, while not all of us would root for a fantasy quarterback playing against our real team, Dave's tale could have happened to many of us. Fantasy sports makes you root for crazy things. I've always thought baseball was the worst, especially if you have a starting pitcher and a reliever in the same game and you have to root for a win, but for the game to be just close enough to also get the save.
Football, though, has its similar features. Have you ever had a fantasy quarterback and rooted for the team he was facing to "score a bunch, so my guy will be forced to pass ... but not too much, because I don't want the defense to be expecting the pass"? In what other world does that sound sane?
For the record, Dave did win his matchup that week, which he says "made it all worth it."
I might have taken the fleece instead.
That will do it for this week. As I've already gone into the developing and odd Randy-Tom relationship in the last two entries, I will refrain from exploring it here, but tune in next week for more updates on that chaos as well as a discussion of whatever strange things happen in our fantasy league in the upcoming week.