I guess you could say that I was a bit of a playground legend. I had a rifle for an arm. I used to carve up defenses with my pinpoint accuracy. Kids would often whine, and say that I threw too hard. My spirals were known to have bruised a few chests. Good thing, we only played with a Nerf. My hands weren’t big enough to grip a leather ball.
After a series of horrific injuries, I had to stop playing. A lot of the kids’ parents started to complain to my parents about how rough I was. It was football, for God’s sake. Kids are going to skin a knee, bruise an arm or worse case scenario – break a leg. They said that a seventeen-year old shouldn’t be playing tackle football with eight and ten-year-olds. No wonder kids are so soft these days.
I missed playing football. For years, I longed to find something that I could give myself to, something that would get my competitive juices flowing again, something I could believe in. I tried synchronized swimming, kettle bell competitions and IronMan Triathlons, but they just weren’t challenging enough.
Back in the day, I was running a card game at a nursing home in 2006. It was part of my community service program that I had agreed to do as part of a plea bargain deal. Those old coots were a lot of fun. We’d play for quarters, pudding, and hearing aids. Once, a guy put his dentures into the pot. Good times. Good times.
One of the residents Mr. Skinner introduced me to fantasy football. Old man Skinner had been invited to play in a family fantasy league with his nephew Charlie. It was a way for Mr. Skinner to connect with his family. We had a computer in the rec room. Mr. Skinner asked me for my help, so we formed the team Shock and Awe.
Mr. Skinner didn’t really like Charlie. He considered him to be a spoiled 15-year old brat. We vowed that we would crush him.
It was a lot of fun, except that each week I had to explain to Mr. Skinner why we couldn’t start Johnny Unitas. We drafted LaDainian Tomlinson that year, and despite his incredible performances, we were struggling with Brett Favre at the helm. Fortunately, it was the same year that Tony Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe in the middle of the year. We grabbed Romo off the waiver wire, and it turned our season around. We won the championship.
You should have seen the trash we talked in the chat room. Mr. Skinner had a lot of pent-up anger being stuck in a nursing home. He gave the whole family a piece of his mind. After the season was over, they kicked him out of the league. I kind of felt bad about that since I often chatted on his behalf while he took his Sunday afternoon naps. Three hours is a long time to sit and watch one game for an eighty-five year old. You could forget about double-headers.
I have to admit that something happened to me that year. I had finally found the outlet I had been searching for. I got my competitive mojo back. I regained my confidence. I started to believe in my abilities again. I could fully grip the Nerf ball in my hand.
Fantasy Football is a lot like life. There are only so many resources available to you, so you must be extremely aggressive and pursue every opportunity to improve your lot in life or your roster. In a position of leadership, you have to bring relentlessness to the General Manager job, and you have to bring it every day. When you have an opportunity to improve, you have to do it. There must be absolutely no aversion to risk.
My fantasy football roster is more than just a list of names. It’s a work of art. It’s an act of faith.
You must have faith in yourself and your convictions. It’s hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. When you attend a football game, you experience elation when a player scores a touchdown, especially if the player is on your team. But how long does that last? You go home from the game. Maybe your bills are due. Maybe you haven’t a job. So who am I to say, “Believe, have faith,” in the face of life’s realities?
I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the game. Everyone plays in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to play the game to the end? From within. If you commit yourself to believing in yourself, then that is how you will complete the game.
I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fantasy savvy. And when I play fantasy football, I feel His pleasure.