The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

Stay True to the Game


Having just completed my own fantasy draft, I have to admit that fantasy football makes real football better.

Now, just like you, I wake up every Sunday with that same burning anticipation -- that very same twitching immaturity delicately balanced with the Emily Post of contrived decorum towards my significant other. Let's face it, it's the best day of the week from September through February.

But fantasy football adds an extra ingredient to the mix. It makes us prep on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the pride of the Pine Street Pugilists (my team) and watch every game Direct TV has to offer, not just the one on Fox. More than that it makes us make choices that we normally wouldn't care about, and makes us place hope in a complex matrix of loyalty.

To whit, I chose Drew Brees as my QB not Donovan McNabb, (though I did take Vick in the 15th round just 'cause). In Week two Brees's Saints will go against McNabb and my Philadelphia Eagles. This is a conundrum every fan/fantasy owner has faced -- far more challenging than that of, "honey, when does the game end?"

So, who do you care about more, your fake team or your real one? I posed this to our fantasy guru Gene Wang on Sunday and he scoffed. Despite being a Cowboys fan, I agree with him. Bottom line, any true fan should care about his or her real team first and fantasy team second.

But then there is that spread... "that space between what's wrong and right" as Dave Mathews put it. If the Eagles were up by fifty points and happen to give up a couple TDs to Brees in garbage time, does it hurt? 'Course not, a win's a win and yet I feel like I'm cheating somehow. Is this the precipice into which point shaver's stare? Isn't it a win-win? Call me immoral but I can't begrudge my Pugs if my Birds still win.

The harder test comes when a win is on the line -- the Pete Rose test I call it. In that circumstance, I always go with my real team -- you have to -- though it's a begrudging choice when fantasy playoff pride and smack talk reigns down from the owner's chatroom. And what if you aren't as fortunate as Eagles fans have been this decade? What if you're a Detroit Lions fan and nothing matters anymore. What if, in fact, a loss might get your real team a better draft pick? Is it wrong to hope your fantasy RB gets an extra 6 points and, as a result, the Lions lose? It's a tough one but my answer has to remain the same.

Call me a loyalist, a homer or a sap, but it is wrong, to take a real loss for a fantasy win. It is wrong for all the reasons we love sports and for one other. As in life and as in love, loyalty, friendship and sex - despite the Internet's fantasy and facility, I'm yet to experience a score more satisfying than the genuine article. Hold true to your real team when it matters least, and you will cherish it that much more, when it matters most.

By Emil Steiner  |  September 7, 2009; 12:54 PM ET  | Category:  Emil Steiner , Fans , Fantasy Football , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Fantasy football is a great way to enjoy players on other teams that I normally could care less about, but when that player is going against the Eagles it is a conflict of interest, but I would root for my team because reality football is more important.

Posted by: ozpunk | September 7, 2009 1:30 PM

I'm just not that Fan anymore to many stupid rules. Greedy owners and soft players.
Today players maybe big and faster but most are not tough. They could not play with 70's NFL rules!
Cost to much to attend, so i don't care it's just another business.
Now Fantasy i get bragging rights now that's real. LOL

Posted by: SOLVBACK | September 8, 2009 1:41 PM

I couldn't agree more. To whit, I take it to a slightly higher level. As a Packer fan, I always make sure to never draft any players from other NFC North teams.

Thankfully, I did not have the first pick in either of my drafts this year - which would have opened me up to ridicule after drafting Michael Turner 1st overall instead of Peterson.

Posted by: crimson02 | September 8, 2009 4:58 PM

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