Fantasy Football 1, NFL 0
Posted Aug. 12 at 08:41 PM
I ordered a New York Jets hat today. And one for my wife, and son, and a "My first Jets T-shirt" for my 10-month-old daughter. Really, the same words could have been on all of our gear. Today, we're Jets fans. A week ago, we were Packers fans. Score one for fantasy football, the only place where you can always be a fan of the same team: yours.
In a way, this is the ultimate in fantasy football. My favorite player, who's always played most of his games about a thousand miles away from where I lived, comes out of retirement and plays for a team less than 40 miles away from me. I know this, because I used MapQuest to figure out my route to training camp tomorrow. Whoo-hoo!
Oh sure, there were some ugly moments on the way to this happy outcome. Unkind things were said and done. And no, the romantic idea of Brett Favre finishing his career with the Packers isn't going to happen. But really, so what. It didn't for Vince Lombardi, either.
So Favre is with the New York Jets, now. And so am I. And the NFL reminds us once again that there's nothing you can really count on -- unlike in fantasy football, where it doesn't matter what jersey your favorite player wears. He can still be on your team.
I should point out that I was a Packers fan before Favre. I remember the high-scoring, oft-losing Packers of the '80s, with Lynn Dickey and James Lofton and John Jefferson, staging classic slugfests like their 48-47 win over Washington on Monday Night Football -- one of the handful of times I got to see the Packers in the '80s, actually. I was a fan before Favre, and I will be after, one day.
But not today. If my NFL team thinks it's better off without the one constant during a 16-year span in which they had a single losing season, it's better off without me, too.
Granted, Favre brought this on himself. He retired, and changed his mind. The Packers moved on without him, as they should have, because he was gone. (He also kind of ruined my back-page column in the magazine, thank you very much.) If you retire and then change your mind, well, you don't get to call every shot as far as what happens next.
Then again, the Packers are hardly without blame here. They stubbornly avoided reality and common sense by pretending not to hear Favre's fairly clear message that he wanted to come back. They hoped he would just go away, thinking they'd be better off without him -- although they didn't want him playing for one of their rivals, either. And ultimately, they tried to pay him not to play.
The short version, to paraphrase Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws, is that they chose to ignore this particular problem until it swam up and bit them in the ass. And then, six weeks later, with no other choice, they shipped him out of town -- coincidentally, to my local team! Sometimes things work out OK.
Will the Packers be better off without Favre? I don't know. But they lost some of their soul in this whole little fiasco, splitting their fan base -- granted, most of the local ones will come back around if the team wins -- and casting aside one of the greatest players in their history not because he was washed up but because he was a waffler and they were tired of him and they wanted to find out how their guy would do as the starter. They may be the only team owned by the fans, but when it came down to it, they made decisions like any other NFL team.
When Jerry Seinfeld joked about us cheering for team uniforms ("the laundry") he was right, to a degree. But it's a sad truth, and not totally accurate. We don't just root for "the team" -- we root for players, too. Aren't the people who make up that team important? Don't the players we've gotten to know over the years mean more than the logos? And isn't it important to have respect for the decision-makers who shape that team? Rooting for a Packers team without Favre wouldn't have been that hard. Rooting for a Packers team that ignored him, tried to buy him off, then kicked him out the door? That would be tougher. This season, I won't be doing it.
My changed loyalties will likely cost me. The Packers have a better overall team than the Jets, and they play in a weaker overall conference. Green Bay's more likely to be going to the Super Bowl in the next couple of years than Brett Favre is.
But not in fantasy football. There, I don't find out about my favorite players being traded on TV -- I find out about it when I trade for them. In fantasy football, the Super Bowl is going to be in week 16, the Jets will be in Seattle, and I've got a pretty good idea who my starting quarterback will be.
Posted by BARRY BROWN | Aug. 13 at 12:18 AM
I understand where you're coming from Andy, when you say "they lost some of their soul" in this whole fiasco. It's a shame that this happens, but it seems to come with all sports these days in this age of free agency and "business decisions". I actually had a very similar experience with the L.A. Lakers a few years back. I'd been a rabid Lakers' fan since Magic Johnson's rookie year, but when team management decided to trade away the most dominant player in the league at the time (Shaq O'Neal) and let go of arguably the greatest coach ever in Phil Jackson because the team "needed to move forward", I was crushed and never regained my passion for the team. I think what makes these situations most difficult for fans is that everyone (including team management) knows keeping these beloved players/coaches gives their team the best chance to win. I guess Coach Lombardi's belief - "Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing" - is no longer relevant in today's sports world.
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