That noted philosopher Jay Mohr–yes, that Jay Mohr–has eloquently stated:
Fantasy football is not only a good thing, but a great thing.
Thank you, Mr. Mohr. If that’s not a reason to go watch Gary, Unmarried and give it another chance. Wait, on second thought …
So just how popular is this fantasy football phenomenon? According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, more than 30 million people play the game annually. Still millions more participate in daily leagues—essentially a sort of street junkie’s version of fantasy football. On steroids. While drinking a Red Bull.
That’s a lot of folks trash-talking and eating bad draft party snacks, and one unfortunate brah picking the just-recently-retired-because-of-chronic-injury David Wilson as his backup RB because he saw Wilson do that ‘cool backflip that time’. I mean … there are less than 30 million people who inhabit entire countries. Countries like Australia, the Netherlands and Burkina Faso. [Yeah, I’ve not heard of that last one either. But, I’m willing to bet you one of Peyton’s Papa Johns pepperoni pizzas that there’s some Burkinabe dude Googling “Fantasy Football TE rankings.” Right. Now. And yes, Burkinabe is the accurate way to refer to the natives. I do my homework, people.]
So who are some of these 30 million fake football managers?
Well, NFL.com had a celebrity FF league last year which included personalities like Jerry O’Connell, Bobby Flay, Jerry Ferrara (a self-proclaimed “junkie”) and more.
Last year, Ashton Kutcher fessed up to assigning an underling to handle analysis and research for his fantasy teams. Now that’s commitment. I think. In a hand-me-down, pass-the-buck sort of way. Don’t know about you, but I want that gig.
So what do you do?
ME: I advise Ashton Kutcher.
Very cool. Financial advisor?
ME: Um, no. I help him decide if Tom Brady or Tony Romo sits.
Heck, even other professional athletes are aboard the train. Clayton Kershaw, MLB pitcher extraordinaire—you might have heard of him—is actually one of the co-engineers of this Fantasy Football Train. He’s on record estimating that “… 40 to 50 percent of MLB players are playing fantasy football.” And we’ve heard legendary tales of NFL players drafting and starting themselves on their teams. Hello there, Chad Johnson, wide receiver formerly known as Chad Ochocinco.
But perhaps the tell-tale sign for reaching the pinnacle of industry popularity and mainstream culture culminates when the Mannings (Mr. Omaha—with that trademark red helmet spot on the forehead, and the little bro—he of the pained sideline facial expressions) join forces with DirecTV to promote their shiny new toy, the NFL Sunday Ticket’s new Fantasy Zone Channel. And bonus points for all of us … Peyton and Eli rapping. Again.
So, how ‘bout you? Go for it. Step up to the plate. Join a league or three. Yes, we’re promoting the age-old Be a Sheep, Not a Shepherd philosophy here. [I’m officially championing that hashtag now, #SheepNotShepherd. Join the revolution, friends.] Remember all those times your mom admonished you with the “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow?” speech? Well, there ARE 30 million people who play fantasy football. That nearly constitutes “everybody’s doing it,” right? Who needs individuality? Be like the others. Follow the crowd.
Maybe you’re saying you don’t have a pair of Cy Young Awards on your mantle. You may not be a semi-humorous former SNL’er. Or the former Mr. Demi Moore. But you should play fantasy football. Sure, the critics or uninformed or your girlfriend will criticize by saying it’s not real football. Or not even really managing a football team. I’ve heard it before, my friends. People have said to—or dare I say, screamed at—me, “Hello … it’s FAKE football!” But hear me out. The benefits are obvious and rewarding, if not even just a skosh self-serving.
Camaraderie. Perhaps even some financial incentive, if you’re lucky AND good. Pride. Maybe some solid food and adult beverages will flow at league gatherings. And then there’s the obvious, overriding reasoning. You get to group text all your buddies / leaguemates at 2am with your own version of “TJ Who’s Your Momma, Bitches! Championship!”
If you’ve not watched this clip, stop what you’re doing immediately and spend 30 seconds making your life better. It will certainly get your fantasy juices flowing. Fantasy football juices flowing. Ahem.
Jay Marks is the Sports Lead for Fantasy Football at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @FFHottieAsst.