I’m retiring from fantasy football

Date Published: 
September 5, 2014

Well, it’s that time of year again. The tourists have left, the kids are in school, and the stress of the summer season has started to fade.

But with the beginning of fall comes the beginning of football season, and with the beginning of football season comes something far more stressful than traffic on Coastal Highway and long lines for breakfast at Jimmy’s Kitchen. I’m talking about fantasy football.

Yes, the pressure is on. Your email inbox is being flooded with invites to leagues named using borderline-clever football puns. The guy you always see in line at Starbucks is asking you “Adrian Peterson or Peyton Manning?” and your boss is shaking you down for your league fee at the water cooler.

This year, however, I want no part of it.

I’m finished with being more focused on watching numbers update on my phone than watching an actual game, the commitment of setting your lineup every week and giving up my Monday night to watch the Titans play the Raiders because I have Maurice Jones-Drew and Rob Bironas. And I’m certainly finished with knowing that the name of the Tennessee Titans’ kicker is Rob Bironas.

Now don’t get me wrong. I played for three years in the same league with co-workers and friends and had a pretty good time. I won the first two years, and it made watching games I wouldn’t otherwise care about more interesting, provided a distraction from what can often be an otherwise mundane winter and made me appreciate a lot more of the jokes on the FX show “The League.” But I just can’t do it anymore.

For whatever reason, I began to lose interest last season. I turned in my hundred bucks, set my lineup for defending champion “Burrested Development” and tried to generate some enthusiasm by reading the latest smack talk on the message boards — but for some reason, I just wasn’t into it.

It could have been my now-limited free time due to working two jobs and wanting to spend the time that I actually did get to myself on the beach or in the water, or the fact that my team name was based off a show and incident far beyond their time frame of relevancy — but last season I essentially donated my league fee, and I’m not doing it again this year.

As draft days approach, however, I’m starting to find that explaining why you don’t want to play fantasy football is more work than actually playing. No one seems to understand why, and no excuse seems to be acceptable.

Not only do you have to come up with reasons to decline the invitation to your league at work, but for that family league that’s just for fun, the one your friends from high school started so you actually have something in common still and the one that your accountant’s brother-in-law needs an eighth for. It’s exhausting.

In a culture where NFL team loyalty has become comparable to religion and Buffalo Wild Wings has become somewhat of a place of worship on Sundays, I’m not exactly shocked at the reactions of those who don’t understand my decision to take a step back from it all.

I appreciate the good things that NFL football does for people. It gives them something to look forward to during the work week, an excuse to get together on Sundays and a reason for strangers wearing the same jersey to spark up a conversation — but at the same time, it brings its negative aspects, too.

It used to almost ruin my day if the Ravens lost, or if my fantasy team didn’t score enough points. I’ve seen fistfights between grown men wearing different team jerseys and yelling insults at each other in front of their sons in the parking lot at M&T Bank Stadium.

I took my ex-girlfriend to a restaurant that I knew would be showing the Broncos game on our anniversary because I needed Wes Welker to score a few touchdowns to win my matchup that week. She caught on after Welker caught his first touchdown, which could be part of the reason why she’s now my ex-girlfriend… but you get my point — football was starting to control my life.

Maybe even a better example than the now-anniversary of my last anniversary celebration/comeback Monday-night win was the time we had waves at the same time the Ravens were playing. I couldn’t focus on either. When I was in the water, I was wondering what the score was, and when I was watching the game, I was wondering what the wind was doing.

It all just became too much. So I’m not only retiring from fantasy football but as a devoted NFL fan, as well. I am no longer a Ravens fan. I don’t wear anyone’s jersey. And Roger Goodell no longer sets my schedule.

I’ll still watch some games and check out the “Sportscenter” highlights, but now I’d much rather enjoy a beer and a good conversation with football as background noise. If a good game happens to be on, that’s great, but even though we all love football, too much of anything will never be in anyone’s best interest.

So, to those of you picking up last-minute sleepers off the waiver wire as the NFL officially kicks off and takes its place in the American spotlight once again, I wish you the best of luck. Just don’t put a remote control through your new plasma screen if Lesean McCoy takes a knee on the 2-yard line at the end of the game and you’re losing by five this Sunday. I’m gonna take this hundred dollars and figure out what to do with it with all my newfound free time.