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There’s no better feeling at 1 p.m. (eastern time) on Sunday’s than turning on the tv and either seeing your favorite team, or having a top-tier matchup. Being a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, I don’t get to see my team play as much as I’d like. (based on their performance this season, I don’t think I’d want to) I remember a few years ago when I would endure certain games just to view the scrolling stat line at the bottom of the screen, to see if my team had won. But those days are long gone. About four years ago I was introduced to a new aspect of the game that gave Sunday’s new life: FANTASY FOOTBALL.

I was introduced to Fantasy Football by the Meads Brothers, who drafted Rex Grossman as my 1st round pick, figuring I would be happy since he had gone to the Super Bowl the season before. Wrong! They my homeboys, but in the words of Rick James, that move was, “COOOOOOLD BLOOOOODED”. But thanks to that move, I was able to draft Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson with the first pick the following year, and I’ve been grinding ever since. I have to thank them for teaching me the #1 rule of Fantasy Football: If you can’t make it to the Draft, or you don’t have a system in place to make your picks……QUIT! Trust me, nobody likes you enough to draft Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster on your behalf. But that’s in the past, and I’ve been a commissioner in one of my leagues for 3 years now, so now I’m the one drafting Rex Grossman for rookie fantasy players.

Fantasy Football has completely transformed the sport. It is now the National FANTASY Football League. Before this game came along, each week was about rooting for your favorite team, and maybe watching a good match-up. Now, you have to keep up with just about every game in order to see how your FFL players are doing. Not only that, but the game has created a new respect between sworn enemies. I personally have always hated the New England Patriots, but each year I seem to get either Brady, Welker, or Moss (past tense) on my team. It’s hard to hope and pray a team losses, but still scores at least 4 passing TD’s. It’s also hard to sit through a St. Louis Rams game, unless you have Steven Jackson on your team. Fantasy football has changed our entire viewing landscape.

Fantasy football has also innovated the league by changing our view of SUCCESS. Years ago, success was all about winning, but that has changed. There are players out there that know how to win. The Jets have made it to the AFC Championship for the past two seasons, but if you have had Mark Sanchez as your QB in your fantasy league, you know winning doesn’t equate to much. Because of fantasy football, SUCCESS is now all about STATS. Players are judged solely on their ability to put up numbers. Years ago, top running backs such as Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice could post a stat line of 100 yards, 1 TD, and a fumble (would equal 14 fantasy pts), and as long as your team won, you were happy. Now, we expect 20+ points from these “work-horses”. Even when we root for a certain team to win, we get mad if they don’t post the stats in the area that helps our game. I know this first-hand, because I lost in our FFL Super Bowl last year simply because of one play. I had Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan on my team, but my opponent had Falcons RB Michael Turner. The Falcons were on the 1 yard line and elected to pass. (great for me) Matt Ryan hikes the ball, has great protection, and LITERALLY stands on the 3 yard line looking for a receiver for at least 7 seconds. The commentators were yelling, “Ryan could easily walk into the end zone!”, and I’m yelling, “Get in the end zone, fool!” He throws the ball out of the back of the end zone, and the very next play they run the ball with Turner for a touchdown. A complete 12 pt swing, and I lost in the Championship by 6. I think I finally fell asleep at about 5 a.m. the next morning. Our expectation are broadened now. We expect more than 2-touchdown games from top QB’s like Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Stafford and P. Manning (when healthy) We want more than just yards from our top running backs and wide receivers. (I’m still made at New England’s Wes’s Welker for ONLY gaining 109 yards, with no TD’s)

The NFL needs to change its name to the NATIONAL FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE. This popular game has changed the perspective of the fan, and therefore changed the landscape of the League. Many League playoffs will start this week, and I’m hoping to fare better than I did last season. If so, stay tuned for the After-Party.

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