The trials of a fantasy football junkie

You know, I really used to love this time of year called fall. The heat of the summer subsides, the leaves begin their shift to an autumn motif of reds and yellows and, most importantly: football season gets underway.
But over the past three years, the enjoyment of watching modern day gladiators clashing in a 100-yard arena has been replaced by my desire to see the right players of various NFL teams score the touchdowns that will make me money.
Yep, I own a fantasy football team.
But even more prevalent than my obsession with money, er, touchdowns, is the anger that flares up in me when I am on the losing side of a particular weekend. My high school coach explained once that football has no recourse but to be emotional and intense. You spend all week in practice building up to a crescendo right before kickoff on Friday night. Fantasy football is the same for me.
I spend all week watching various ESPN segments that go over games, teams, players and coaches. I scan the schedule to see who’s playing whom and go over the teams’ injury reports. So, by game day Sunday, I am one nasty sumbitch.
Take for example the season opener last weekend.
I wake up grumbling that I have to trek to the store to get an over-priced paper. How else can I ensure that I possess the most current information possible?
I turn on the TV grumbling because it took 10 minutes to find the damn remote. My incoherent grumbling turns into muted complaining as the Fox pre-game show appears on the tube — Terry Bradshaw and his peanut gallery are just too chipper for this guy on a Sunday morning.
Well, maybe my complaining wasn’t muted enough, because down the stairs comes my Wisconsin-born roommate who incidentally was the clown who left said remote under a couch cushion. On about 36 different occasions this day he will remark how Brett Favre is the greatest quarterback ever. Fine. Great. Shut up.
Now the games are underway. Something occurs to me as I watch the Vikings game, they should have a fantasy football rule in the NFL. I mean, how many owners felt cheated when Bob Christian scored from one- yard out rather than Jamal Anderson? What a pain that must be. Call it back on the grounds that Christian is on about two fantasy rosters in the entire nation. Oh well, not my problem.
Now we’re getting to my favorite time of the day. Fox starts running the barely readable scores and highlights across the bottom of the screen. One of two unfailing trends continue in this infant season; the stats go by too fast to read, or the score shows the Jacksonville Jaguars up 21-0, with no indication of what role my quarterback Mark Brunell played in this point barrage.
Now it’s halftime. Saturday night’s left-over beer is gone. Bradshaw’s yakking is making 3.2 Schlitz from the corner store sound appealing, and my roommate is now going on and on about the time he saw Favre play. But the good news is I can at least get the scores and highlights in an organized fashion.
While the video game-like presentation of highlight clips dances across the TV screen, I see in an organized fashion that my team is losing. Though it is only the first wave of the day’s games and I shouldn’t fret, I find it necessary to blurt out a rather distasteful word at a volume that makes the neighbors close their windows — three houses down the block.
Now collected, I sit down for the second wave of games. And once again, I can’t find the remote.
Then a funny thing starts to take shape. At Sunday’s end, I’m actually in the lead — albeit shakily — 31-26. The neighbors aren’t fooled, their windows are still shut.
But there is still the dreaded equalizer of owners. Monday Night Football.
Sure enough, the opponent’s team gets a combined 29 points from a wannabe basketball legend/running back and an ostrich playing wide receiver. That’s Karim Abdul-Jabbar of Miami and Ed McCaffrey of Denver to those scoring at home.
So I lost. My team sucks. And there are still 15 weeks of this to go.
Maybe I’ll learn how to manage my anger in the weeks to come, but for now I at least returned the favor to my Packer-Backer roommate who by this time was sitting down to watch a movie.
“Where’s the remote?” he asked as I walked upstairs for bed.
“Check with the neighbors,” I replied.
I wasn’t kidding, either. Guess they should’ve left that window open after all.
David La Vaque covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]