Sunday, September 1, 2013
It's Just a Fantasy
For the first time, I don’t know if I’m "really" ready for some football. I’ve spent the month trying to figure my lack of enthusiasm here, and think I might’ve come up with it. Seems to me the new wave of NFL marketing/PR is targeting a guy I like to call "Fantasy Guy." Now we all know there are about 800 commercial breaks in any given game, which makes watching them on TV tough, and watching them live really tough. And it seems like the theme of said commercial blitz is aimed at the guy in his late 20s-late 30s, white-collar, kind of techy, does a lot with his I-Phone, and devotes his foremost allegiance to his Fantasy Football Roster. That's not who I am as an NFL fan. That's not me.
You see this guy in the beer commercials, chips commercials, soda commercials. He’s watching the game with a group of good-looking co-eds, everybody has an I-Phone in hand. Let me tell you about this guy in the real world: He started watching pro ball a few years ago, he doesn’t really "know" the game or really "love" it, but he’s routinely telling you how well his Fantasy-Drafted players are performing. You invite him over to watch Dallas vs. NY Giants, a heated, historic NFC East Rivalry, and he’s rooting for, um, both teams, because he has Cowboys and Giants on his Fantasy Roster. I'm sorry, that's not Cowboys/Giants. Fantasy Football’s ruining the real thing.
The guys I talk NY Giants with know the team inside and out, have been watching Big Blue since grade school, can tell you the starting offensive line for the 1990 Super Bowl Team, Phil Simms’s historic performance in the ’86 game. We follow every aspect of OUR team, suffer weeklong depressions when they lose, left only to analyze the bad pass Eli made or why Coughlin punted on that key 4th & 1. We debate team history and most playoff wins, and most fourth-qtr. comeback wins, etc. We love this team, love this coach, love it all, and, well, hate it all. It's an emotional "all-in." As a fan, I like the admittedly-silly idea of "your" team vs. "ours," your city vs. ours, your coach/QB vs. ours. It’s beer and bad food, and we "gotta" have this win. That’s how football’s been my whole life. “Eagles suck!” no “Giants suck!” then bragging rights on Monday morning, sweet-sweet bragging rights. It's threatening to cancel Christmas if the Giants lost to the Jets on X-Mas Eve then tearing up when Coughlin limped to center field to shake Rex Ryan's hand after knocking his big-mouth bunch from the playoffs. It's watching the Giants win the NFC East one week later from the nosebleed seats in the snow and freezing rain, seeing God himself when Coughlin's face filled that jumbo-tron, addressing the media at the podium. I saw God that night. His name was Thomas Richard Coughlin. You can have your Fantasy Team.
I can't count the number of times I got beat up on the bus by 49ers fans when the Giants won. Then Montana retired and Aikman emerged, and those 49ers fans became Cowboys fans, and I got beat up anew. As long as the Giants won, I took my thumping with a smile. Or the night I came home from school and my father was already stretching dough for the perfect pizza he'd make that Monday night as we watched Giants/49ers, a game the G-Men would lose 7-3 then avenge in the NFC Championship. That's football. Now it’s office Fantasy Drafts, downloading game clips to your Droid, texting today’s MVP to *4678. Nah.
Maybe I’m not progressing with the times or technology, but to me, the whole Fantasy thing is sort of pointless, and it’s redirecting the NFL passion in a bad way. It’s less and less about lifers in front of that TV on Sundays. It’s less and less about Cowboy Week, Redskin Week, fan bases called the Black Hole, the Dog Pound. What can I say? I’m just not into the Fantasy craze. I still prefer the real thing.
On that note, here are some of my predictions for the "real" NFL Season.
AFC Championship: Houston over Denver
NFC Championship: Atlanta over Dallas
Super Bowl: Atlanta over Houston
SB MVP: Matt Ryan/Atlanta
Reg. Season MVP: Peyton Manning/Denver
Top-Ranked QB: Andrew Luck/Indy
Top-Ranked Rusher: Adrian Peterson/Minn
Top-Ranked Receiver: Julio Jones/Hot-lanta
Big Step Back: RG3/Wash, Russell Wilson/SEA, Colin Kaepernick/SF
Surprise Playoff Teams: Kansas City, St. Louis, Miami, Chicago
Surprise Teams MISSING the Playoffs: San Fran, Seattle, New England, Baltimore
Best Team Record: Denver 13-3
Worst Team Record: Philly 3-13
Coach of the Year: Marc Trestman/Chicago
Coaching Last Stands: Rex Ryan/NYJ, Dennis Allen/OAK, Jim Schwartz/Detroit
Breakout Player: David Wilson/NYG
Overhyped Player: RG3/Wash OF COURSE