Sometimes A Fantasy Is All You Need

by Kevin Burton

   If the NFL season ended at this writing, my Bengals would be included in the playoffs. They would travel to Kansas City for a first-round game.

   Blood rivals Cleveland and Pittsburgh, though they are having fairly good seasons, would be excluded if the playoffs began today.  How sweet is that?

   And that’s why I have playoff fever baby!

   Uh, sort of.

   A year ago I bought Cincinnati Bengals pajama bottoms that I didn’t need strictly speaking. I did this to add to my quarantine wardrobe and to confirm my place on the Bengals bandwagon. But the truth is my interest in the NFL had been waning.

    But there is another team in playoff position that I have been paying more attention to lately.  If that team’s season ended at this writing, it too would be in the playoffs as a three seed playing a two seed in a four-team playoff format, a league semi-final

   Not sure how this happened. But my attention to fantasy football and my K&J Silvers team in the USA Legends league, has surpassed all other things NFL, just as my allegiance to the Bengals is about to pay off. 

   I wondered out loud about this, when I signed up for a fantasy team (“Can Fantasy Football Save NFL Sundays?,” Aug. 6).

   Most of the attention I have given the Bengals came from having wideout Tyler Boyd on the fantasy team for a while.  I dumped him a few weeks ago, making my ties to Bengaldom more tenuous.

   It’s not a problem though. It’s not like I have some kind of obsession. Pacing the floor is normal for me. Anybody who knows me knows this.

   I note this in passing, as a courtesy to others, just because I found this article on the “ten signs you are taking fantasy football much too seriously.”

   Glad I found the article before my wife did, since I can read it with the proper perspective and objectivity.

   The article is by Russell Puntenney and appeared in Bleacher Report. I pass this along to those of you who might be developing an obsession to fantasy football.

   “Fantasy football just seems to scratch some people in this world right where they itch,” Puntenney writes.

   He then compares fantasy and the obsession of its devotees to Dungeons and Dragons!

   Can you believe that? Sobering stuff to have a card-carrying sportswriter make such a comparison. 

   “The bottom line is this: There’s fantasy football and there’s real life, actual football and they’re two completely different things,” Puntenney writes. “If you’re having trouble keeping them separate, building a flawless fantasy roster every season might be the least of your concerns.”

   Whatever dude! Well, I know I don’t have that problem, because I fit only three of the ten signs.

   Furthermore one of the signs, number three “withholding information from a friend,” I demonstrably do not have. 

   When Atlanta wide receiver Calvin Ridley went on IR I mentioned it to my friend Rob who had him in his lineup about a half hour before game time. Rob’s team is just one game behind mine in the standings.  One of three teams breathing right down my neck like a defensive end looking to sack my playoff aspirations. 

   “Perhaps the easiest way to tell if your fantasy attitude has transitioned from friendly competition to all-out warfare is to analyze your communication with other players,” Puntenney writes, adding “friends don’t let friends start players on a bye week.”

   But then, the worst of the ten signs I am guilty of, “when you find yourself rooting against your real-life favorite team.”

    That I did at least once I can remember.  I also may have failed the test about talking fantasy football to people who don’t care.

   “Here’s a quick memo signed by all of those people: Shut up,” He writes.

   “If you’re so caught up in the euphoria of the game you can’t even detect basic human indifference anymore, there’s little question your fantasy obsession has ballooned to off-the-chart, freak-like levels and officially needs to be addressed,” Puntenney writes.

   Two weeks ago I saw somebody in Wal-Mart who was wearing a Michael Gallup jersey. I restrained myself from telling him Gallup is on my Fantasy team.

   See, it’s all in perspective.

   The Bengals and Silvers have some things in common. They are equally likely to fade and miss the playoffs. They are equally likely to lose in the first round should they make the playoffs.

   The fantasy season ends before the NFL playoffs, so they will never overlap.  That’s a blessing. There’s only so much pacing a guy can do.

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