By Mark Paulette,
Step 1: admit there’s a problem – Okay, I admit it. After some self-reflection, it is evident that fantasy football has become more than simply a pastime.
At first, that’s all it was, a little added bonus on Sunday’s to supplement the normal flair of watching football. Though, over the years it has evolved into a full-fledged addiction.
It came to a head this past Monday night, as I lay in bed watching a meaningless game between Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Now, not to bore you with tales of my fantasy team, but I entered the game with a 25.8-point cushion in my semifinal match-up, while my opponent’s only remaining player was Falcons running back, Devonta Freeman.
Everything was innocent enough in the first half, even though Freeman managed some chunk gains and had roughly 100 yards from scrimmage. I was still breathing easy and looking ahead to this week’s championship round. Then came the fourth quarter, and with Atlanta nursing a narrow lead, they began feeding their all-pro back. Freeman feasted on Tampa’s hapless defense, and sprung a 32-yard touchdown midway through the fourth to pull my opponent within two points.
The cold sweats kicked in and the game was no longer simply on in the background. My eyes were peeled to the screen, praying for lengthy Buccaneers’ drives to eat away the remaining clock. But they never came, and the ball continued to return into the hands of Atlanta’s offense.
Eventually, the Falcons chose to pass on third down, rather than just run it and use the clock to their favor, (I wonder where we’ve seen that before?) And after a feverish rally from Tampa Bay as the seconds were winding down, the Bucs missed a 50-yard field goal which would have sent the game to overtime, inevitably allowing Freeman to tally more points. The dulcet tones of the fat lady singing at the end of the game were the sweetest notes I’ve ever heard. I had survived by 14 hundredths of a point. Seemingly, all the needless stress was worth it, and it quickly washed away like a wave of relief.
Skip ahead a bit…
Step 9: make amends to all the people you’ve harmed – A long list of apologies are in order here. Firstly, I must apologize to Freeman himself. I won’t say that I wished harm upon him during the course of that fourth quarter, because that would simply be wrong. Not to mention pretty damn hypocritical after previously writing an article on the brutality of football. But I certainly screamed a few times at the T.V., imploring Atlanta to just simply stop giving him the rock. I’m sorry, Devonta, you were just doing your job.
Next, let me apologize to the Bucs’ defense as a whole, who I cursed out on many occasions for their inability to collectively, as an 11-man unit, stop one mere mortal who was carving through them like a Thanksgiving turkey. Oh, here I go again. I didn’t mean it Tampa, the stress isn’t an excuse, and neither was your terrible play. I’m sorry.
Skip ahead a little more…
Step 12: carry this message and practice these principals – Well, hold on now. Despite the countless temper tantrums, unprintable rants and lost hours perched in front of the T.V., watching games that I would otherwise have no interest in, I am here to say that this addiction is in fact okay.
It’s enjoyable to be able to have some control over the action playing out across the country on Sunday’s, to directly benefit from the fortunes of some and misfortunes of other’s.
Despite the financial ruins and stress it may cause, I have no problem with fantasy football. I am a prime case of what’s helping to keep the NFL atop the sport’s hierarchy in America. You could not pay me to watch most of the non-Patriots games for just the hell of it, but when you factor in fantasy, I’m on top of everything that is happening as it pertains to my team.
Maybe my feelings would be different had the .14 margin not swung in my favor. Maybe a loss would have made me swear off fantasy for all the needless trouble it causes. But oh well, I won. And frankly, that’s all that matters.
Mark Paulette is the senior producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show