My Sunburns Are Legendary: One Man’s Struggle With His Inner Fantasy Self
There I was fresh of my first championship in the Wait Till Next Year Fantasy Football League. The photo above is a happy young man with money in his hands, from family and friends as they paid up for the ass whooping I put on them back in the 2003 season.
I had LaDainian Tomlinson in his 100 reception season, Randy Moss in his final dominant year with the Vikings and some breakout receiver named Chad Johnson of the Bengals. Yeah, the cherry on top was picking up 49ers running back Kevin Barlow as he went off for a monster last month.
I had it all, couldn’t be stopped, had made the playoffs in three of the first four season of the league and was ready to defend my title with ease. And then the season from hell came crashing down!
Week 1: Ownige No More
One of my favorite lines in movie history comes from the character Max Bialystock (played by Zero Mostel) in the movie The Producers. In an early scene in the movie, Bialystock looks outside the window of his office to see a lady coming out of a fancy car, and Bialystock yells out, “That’s right, cause when you’ve got it, flaunt it baby, flaunt it!”
Now in the early days of the league, as soon as my cousin Brandon (Then played on team Football A-Holics, now with his dad on team Big Daddy and the Legend), put the league up hosted by MyFantasyLeague.com, I always had to be the first to run my mouth on the message board. Tradition if you will, and of course, I had some extra choice words for everyone fresh off a championship.
Yup I was ready to start off hot and win a second title, and what a better way to do it than to play my Uncle Mike week one. Up to this point I had what we call in this league, “Ownige” on him as I’d torched him in all nine of our meetings in the previous four seasons.
My team had a good game but Mikey benefited from huge performances from Ahman Green, Curtis Martin and Terrell Owens to finally beat me for the first time. Talk about a bad omen to start the year, and perhaps I should have known things were doomed for failure right then. Week One – Canucks 116, The Players Club 90 (record 0-1)
Week 2: Blindsided On Monday Night Football
As week two rolled around I was feeling darn good about bouncing back as I would play Ken’s team (team name Blindsiders, nickname Sideliners), and going into Monday night I had a 25 point lead and only had to get past his quarterback Donovan McNabb.
In previous seasons, my win would’ve been secured, but no this was Terrell Owens first year in Philadelphia, and the magic was in full effect. It came down to the final minutes of the game, but McNabb finally did me in with a long touchdown pass to Owens, on what was a very questionable call, as I still feel Owens knee was down before he reached over the goalline.
The play was contested, but in the end it held up and what looked like my first win of the year turned into another defeat. Week Two – Blindsiders 113, The Players Club 103 (record 0-2)
Week 3: Manning And The Boys
Then week three happened and It’s going to take a little story to lay the ground work for this beat down.
At that time (before I moved to Oregon), a neighbor of mine down the street named Colin (team name Tracy Manglers, now just Manglers, nicknames Mangla, Stangla) had failed to make the playoffs in the his first three years, but somehow managed to kick my ass every time (6-0) we would play.
Let’s just say Mangla has a curtain way of drafting and while unconventional at times, it can pay off and this year it did in a Big Way! This was 2004, and Mangla decided to not just draft Peyton Manning but Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley!
Actually he dropped Stokley (would pay for that later) because even he had to admit after the draft that Manning and three of his receivers was a little much. Most years this would be true, but not in 2004, the year Manning just happened to go for the touchdown record.
Yeah, he had a good team, but truth be told the first couple of games from the Colts offense that year was just average; it was week three against the Packers that the craziness really started.
Of course, who plays against Mangla that week but yours truly. Mangla would go on to whoop my A** with 60 points from Manning, 25 from Wayne and another 10 from Harrison. Week Three – Tracy Manglers 166, The Players Club 106 (record 0-3)
At this point I was pissed, as my team had scored better each week but had nothing to show for it in the win column. Still, while I had yet to post a monster performance, my team was scoring and I felt confident it would pull out of the funk.
That didn’t stop Mangla from posting a little smack on the message board that week. Unhappy about the outcome but I knew I would have at least one more chance to beat Mangla for the first time and finally drop the ownige label.
Panic Sets In, Injuries Pile Up
Week four I lost to my cousins and panic set in! Four weeks and four losses, the season was starting to look grim, and I overreacted and made a six player trade with them the following week. Hoping to shake things up, I landed Tom Brady, Santana Moss and the Buccaneers Defense and traded away Chad Johnson, Chad Pennington and the Patriots Defense.
While Brady was clearly an upgrade at quarterback, he wasn’t the stud fantasy quarterback we’ve seen since the 2007 season. He had his good games, but the Patriots tended to win with dominant defense and at this time they actually had a feature back in Corey Dillon.
The next week I finally picked up my first win of the season against Budmen as Chris Brown of the Titans went off for a huge Monday night game against the Packers.
While it was nice to get that first win out of the way, injuries then left my team stranded as stars like Randy Moss went down with a hamstring and never really recovered, until late in the season. This was evident the next week as The Reddog Express crushed me 138 to 56.
Week 10: Ownige Continues
By the time I faced Mangla for the second time, my season was all but washed up as I came into week 10 with a two and seven record, being knocked around week after week and falling again to the Canucks for a second time.
Did that stop me from talking smack? Heck no and I have the message board link to prove it (notice I miss spelled here as hear, good one playa) as before the game, I told Mangla exactly what my team was going to do to him. Pay no attention to the fact that my team had averaged about 65 points over the past month and Mangla was going to town with Manning and the boys.
I was out to get that first win over Stangla and I didn’t care who was listed down on paper!
As you can probably tell by the message board chat, Mangla not only had ownige on me in our matchups, he was running circles around me with his words as well. Yeah, the shinny nickel thing still hurts but darn it; I was convinced a victory was in hand; I mean Ownige has to stop at some point, right?
Well Ownige did stop eventually but not in 2004, oh no, this was the year old Playa was doomed and I promptley fell to a miserable defeat. Tracy Manglers 147, The Players Club 36 (record 2-8)
Week 11: Forget Fantasy, Go 49ers! Oh, Wait!
With the season gone and my opportunity to finally beat old Mangla done for another year, I was down in the dumps. The following week I had a matchup against the cousins and I had a decision to make in my roster. Should I go with my Seahawks defense who had a decent matchup, or play the Buccaneers defense which played at home against my beloved 49ers?
Now, at that point the 49ers were not just bad they were really bad, and as a matter of fact, I think they only had one win on the season going into that game.
While my cousins had clearly gotten the better end of our trade, earlier in the year, I decided not to use the Buccaneers defense they gave me in that trade against them. No, I decided it was best to just route for my team, because fantasy was over.
Unfortunately, the Buccaneers defense had over 40 points that week which would’ve been the winning points for me if I had chosen to play them.
Oh, and for good measure, my cousins beat me with another come from behind Monday night game but this time with was with Chad Johnson, the receiver I traded them. Football A-Holics 80, The Players Club 72 (record 2 – 9)
That game would go on to change the way I viewed fantasy lineups forever, because I realized how much it really meant to me to win, even if the season was lost. For me, I’m competitive and just going to work on Monday or Tuesday knowing my team won, made me feel a little better before work began. Never again would I bench or start a player just to route for my beloved 49ers.
Week 13: The Exclamation Point On A Bad Season!
It couldn’t get an worse could it? Think again, as a few weeks later my Dad, Reddog put on the finishing touches on the season with a monster performance and a blowout victory. By Monday night the week was lost for me, and for some reason I didn’t seem to notice while sitting at the bar with some friends of mine, that then rookie Julius Jones was still playing for my Dad’s team.
Yeah, when I got home he was dancing around the house as Jones went off for a 45 point day against the Seahawks. Reddog Express 198, The Players Club 53 (record 2-11)
Wrapping Up The Horribleness That Was 2004
I would go on to finish my final regular-season game with a victory over my Uncle Dave’s team (The Ugly Boys, nickname Ugly) but the official massacre was already in the bag.
As for the playoffs, remember when I told you Mangla cutting Stokley would come back to haunt him? Well it did in the first round of the playoffs as Manning had his lone slow game of the year against the Ravens. He went on to break the touchdown record that night, and who was the receiver? Yeah, Stokley. If he had Stokley in his lineup that night, he would’ve advanced to the Super Bowl, instead he lost to Budmen.
In the Super Bowl, my Dad would go on and win the league, but I would never be the same again, at least not for a while. I was so crushed I had to take a year off from fantasy to regroup (not joking actually took a year off). I was actually a silent partner with my cousins in 2005, and they won the championship that year.
With them winning, my confidence was restored somewhat, and I then teamed up with my Dad to form the Reddog – Players in 2006. Since that time I’ve missed the playoffs only once, and I did actually have a year in there where I broke off from my Dad and I made the playoffs on my own.
Still, I will never forget the beat down I took in the 2004 season. What looked so promising during the summer, turned into a nightmare and I’ve never taken a beating like that at anytime before or since.