Posted Jan. 15 at 03:20 PM
Fantasy football is a game that might net you less than $100 when all is said and done. If you play a higher-stakes game, it's still probably less than $1,000 -- and that's if you win. For the vast majority of players (some earn five and six figures, but they're a tiny minority), the per-hour breakdown of compensation isn't much compensation. We play because it's fun.
The downside is that the spoils of victory are relatively small: A trophy, some pocket money and bragging rights. No camera crews in your driveway, no big interviews on television and no global accolades for your success. But that works both ways. Your failures don't make headlines and fans don't want answers when things don't go your way.
By now, most football fans know who Rahim Moore is. He's "the guy" from the Broncos-Ravens playoff game-- the safety who misjudged a desperation deep pass that led to a 70-yard touchdown. The Ravens would win the game in double overtime and end Denver's stellar first season with Peyton Manning at quarterback.
Never mind the fact that the play only tied the game, or that Manning threw the disappointing interception in overtime, or that Champ Bailey was treated like a cheap sparring partner for Torrey Smith. The loss fell on Morris' shoulders. Head Coach John Fox defended the team's subsequent kneel-down strategy to end regulation by saying the team needed to compose themselves after the play. In other words, Morris didn’t merely botch that play to give up a score. He also impacted future coaching decisions.
If you're a Broncos fan, you're angry. If you're a Ravens fan, you're elated. But if you play fantasy football, I hope you'll feel sympathy for him. You've made a lot of mistakes as well -- the kind that derail seasons. You're drafted the wrong guy, made the wrong waiver wire pickup, pulled the trigger on a bonehead trade or started the wrong player in a critical game. If you've ever had to decide between two potential starters, and you started the wrong one, and that decision cost you the game, then you should understand how Moore feels. If it happened in the playoffs, you're just like him. If it happened in your title game, it might be worse. The stakes are much higher, but it's still misjudging a situation and paying the price for it.
This year I started Alfred Morris in week eight against the Steelers instead of Doug Martin against the Vikings. It was a close call, but it made sense to me. The stat line: Morris was 13 carries for 59 yards, his worst game of the season. Martin was 29 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and three catches for 79 yards and another score receiving. Clearly, I misjudged that "play."
But I didn't have to answer to anyone. My fantasy team didn't say a word. The fans didn't criticize me, and I didn't have to give any comment to the media. That's the benefit we have as fantasy owners. Whatever we do, we don't get fired, we're not the scapegoat, and we always get another chance next year. A quarter of the NFL's head coaches were fired after the end of the season. But you have a permanent contract extension. It's nice to have job security, especially if you leave Doug Martin sitting on the bench. But Moore doesn't have that luxury, and he had to respond to the media after the play in question.
Now, I'm not saying to feel too sorry for him. He's a professional and he made a mistake. He's a young guy making a lot of money. His bank account has more zeroes than most. With the smallest bit of financial planning, he and his family are set for the foreseeable future.
But he's a 22-year-old who made a mistake on one play, and it ended up costing his team a regulation win. He owned up to it, too. He blamed himself, pinned the loss on his mistake and said it wouldn't happen again. They were the right words, but I listened to the actual interview. You can't hear his voice cracking in a sports article. You can't see his dejected look in print. He made a costly mistake, and the only difference between him and us is that everyone knows about it and is blaming him for it. As a fantasy owner, you have to sympathize; that's all I'm saying. Enjoy the Conference Championship games.
Clip of the week: Watch it for yourself (about 1:20 in), and remember the time you made a huge error that cost your team.
Have you ever made a mistake that cost your fantasy team everything? Share your thoughts below.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Jan. 15 at 03:42 PM
Fox's explanation seems particularly disingenuous since he made the exact same decision right before halftime, with a few extra seconds and all three timeouts. He should've just said I'm a conservative coach and that's the way I operate. Weak.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Jan. 15 at 05:23 PM
I agree, and I definitely think it has an effect on the players when their coach refuses to take any chances and it's not a positive one. And for the people who try and justify his strategy by saying Elway agreed with him, what did they expect Elway to do, publicly throw his coach under the bus?
Posted by IAN ALLAN | Jan. 15 at 05:32 PM
Matt Prater might have been a factor in the decision. He wasn't even close on a longer field goal he attempted earlier in the game. He's not a great kicker as is, and that was compounded with the cold weather. Still, I will agree it was a surprise that they didn't have him drop back a couple of times, under the instructions ("don't force anything; we can still go to overtime").
Posted by Scott Anderson | Jan. 16 at 07:34 AM
I'm in Denver (& not a Bronco fan), and the fallout around here is tremendous to watch. Prevailing attitude is that Fox is waaayy too conservative & Manning is too passive - "You wouldn't see Brady, Roethlisberger, Brees, hell even Elway passively take a knee & walk to the sidelines." Moore's play was Buckner-esque, no doubt, but the entire team couldn't have played worse. Manning seemed very affected by the cold - no deep throws, putting on a mummy bag every second he wasn't on the field, horrible body language. The Raven's O-Line was stellar - no sacks until OT? With Miller & Dumervil? The entire city is in shock & denial that they aren't hosting the AFC Championship game. The media is culpable in that too - sports talk was unbearable last week leading up to the game, as far they were concerned, the Super Bowl was a foregone conclusion. Whoops. Feel bad for Moore - he's done in this town, but hopefully the Raiders pick him up at a discount & he can haunt them for the next couple of years...
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Jan. 16 at 08:32 AM
Well, they found their scapegoat. Fired the secondary coach. I'm sure Rahim Moore was coached to allow a receiver to get behind him and catch a desperation 70 yard TD and I'm sure Champ Bailey was coached to allow Torrey Smith to torch him all day because Champ is a hall of famer and a hall of famer would never allow that to happen. In a similar situation last season, the 49ers organization stood behind Kyle Williams when his two fumbles probably cost them a trip to the Super Bowl. Stay classy, Foxy.
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