Thursday, September 07, 2006

"Offensive Waste of Time: 10-Yard Penalty"

I was finishing up a legal motion that I had been writing all afternoon and had lost track of the time. Just before 6 o'clock, the Managing Partner of the law firm stopped in my doorway and told me come to the large conference room. As I followed him down the hallway I quickly ran through some worst-case scenarios in my head. All of the partners and senior associates were present, sitting around the main table with sober, intense looks on their faces. I went over to the last open seat at the far end of the room, and waited expectedly. The Managing Partner stood up and signaled for everyone's attention.

"All right. Before we begin, let's keep in mind that all decisions made tonight are final...and that any formal challenges will be resolved by the League Commissioner. We will now begin with Round One."

And with that, our firm's 2006 Fantasy Football Draft officially got underway.
* * * * * * * *
I had completely forgotten about that night's draft. To be honest, fantasy football was one of those things that I had always heard about but held zero interest for me. I love to play a number of sports, but if given the choice between spending a Sunday afternoon outdoors or parked in front of a TV watching overpaid athletes run around for a couple of hours--well, I'll chose the former everytime.
It became pretty clear that all of the attorneys were expected to join the firm's league, and I figured that it would be a good way to meet some of the other people around the office. Everyone was divided into teams of two, and together you took turns picking any current player in the NFL to make up your own 'fantasy' team. Then you tracked your players each weekend throughout the season using some complex scoring system.
A controversy quickly arose right at the outset. It apparently involved a new rule change about a player being placed on something called "waivers". I'd like to fill you in on what that means exactly, but right around then the pizza and beer arrived in the next room, and the only wavering I became aware of at that point was deciding on whether I wanted a Corona or a Miller Lite.
When I returned to my seat everyone had begun to focus intently among the piles of scouting reports that covered the conference table. From the looks of it, most of them had spent weeks of research trying to craft their winning selection strategy. It occurred to me that these middle-aged sports fanatics were the former jocks who had mocked my friends and I for playing Dungeons & Dragons back in junior high school. Now these same grown-up men were spending countless hours obsessing over make-believe football rosters. I felt the sudden urge to unsheathe my +2 Middle Finger of Scorn and wield it upon the room, but I wisely chose to tightly clutch the 10-sided dice in my pocket until the moment passed.
The whole process began to drag on as each team spent their full two minutes during each round huddled closely together, whispering furiously and pouring over their computer printouts before announcing their final decision. There was a decidedly different process when it came time for my partner and me to make our first pick:
HIM: (handing me his scouting chart)
Here's my top three choices for quarterback. What are your thoughts?
ME: (in mid-bite of pizza)
Is Roger Staubach still playing...??
Not since 1979.
ME: (nodding decisively)
Then, yeah-let's go with Donovan McNabb...
I was pretty much relegated to crossing off the players on our master list as each team made their choice, and making the occasional beer run. The entire draft apparently went on for hours, but I had to leave halfway through to get ready for my son's first day of high school the following morning. My partner later filled me in on the final roster for our team, but I'm kind of clueless when it comes to the names of most pro athletes. I don't recall exactly, but I'm pretty sure we wound up with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as our wide receiver and Michele Kwan at running back.
So, we'll see how the season goes. I suppose now I'll have to find out what channel ESPN is listed on DirectTV. Who knows, maybe I'll get hooked and join up for Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Basketball, or Fantasy Bass Fishing. On second thought, maybe I'll start with Fantasy Women's Beach Volleyball. Now that is a sport that I could definitely imagine myself getting obsessed with for a few hours...