After each Super Bowl has been played, I try to look back on the past few months and see if I've learned anything. We're advanced beings, right? We can learn and grow, can't we?
Well, maybe. In any case, as we bid farewell to another season, here's what I think I've learned.
I learned that you need a short memory in fantasy football. Three seasons ago, a Top 10 fantasy list would have included names like Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant and Rob Gronkowski. They aren't even in the league. Todd Gurley, A.J. Green and Odell Beckham, Jr. would be questionable starters today, much less a first-round choice.
Only a handful of guys from way, way back in the old days (2016) would be top candidates today. The league is getting younger very fast. The names you knew as fantasy staples should be forgotten over the summer.
I learned that online leagues can be as disposable as old holiday wrapping paper. It used to be a sad blemish on the season when one team quit halfway through. But when a third of the league goes AWOL by Halloween, something is wrong. The bigger fantasy football gets, the pickier you have to be in choosing a league.
Speaking of online play, I learned that the gap between traditional leagues and daily fantasy games is growing. One is usually a very bad return in terms of dollars per hour, but offers season-long fun, camaraderie and a chance to follow the league throughout the season. The other is becoming a weird educated roulette-parlay contest where you have to hit all the right picks on the same ballot to win the big money advertised. You usually don't know your fellow players, and your interest in the game might last a few hours.
Plus, the vast majority of prizes are won by a tiny group of players. Their systems are far removed from someone playing with a laptop, a few bucks and a hunch. Not knocking those who enjoy it, but I barely recognize it as fantasy football anymore.
I learned that the game has so many commercials, breaks, sponsors, and distractions that's it's not all that much fun to watch anymore. Sadly, I'm talking about the Puppy Bowl. More puppies and fewer promotions, guys!
I learned that people will root for their square to hit over the actual Super Bowl itself. "If they get a safety here, and the other team gets a touchdown but misses the extra point, all in the next 93 seconds, that's my square!" And I may or may not be that person.
I also learned how right I was last week about 0,0 being the best square. It came up twice in a row during the game. By the way, 2,2 is not a great square, and I knew that the instant I got it.
I learned that $5.6 million doesn't buy what it used to. Remember when watching commercials was an event itself during the game? What's the point if most of the ads are so uninspired we wish we hadn't bothered?
I learned that people will get upset over anything these days. It's just the halftime show. You know, that thing we have to sit through before we get the rest of the game? That's all it is. Come on, people.
I learned that you don't want to celebrate too early. I understand an interception in the fourth quarter is a big deal when you have a double-digit lead, and the 49ers were excited. But posing for a celebration in the end zone seemed pretty silly in hindsight.
I learned about the power of Andy Reid. Almost everyone I talked to who didn't have a team to support ended up choosing Kansas City, and it was usually because of him. It's easy to root for a good guy who is part of (and created) a strong coaching tree. Even Eagles fans were cheering for him, and they're not an easy bunch to win over. People were genuinely happy to see him finally win it all. Congrats to the coach.
I learned that making a football league succeed is hard. Over the past year, fans have seen football leagues fold after just a few weeks (Alliance of American Football) and a few decades (Arena Football League). I wrote for the AFL, and it was a solid group of people who were really trying to make the league work. But it wasn't easy, and it won't be easy for the XFL, which begins play this weekend. It would be great for fans to have more football during the year, and they have a lot of quality personnel already in place. I wish them the best of luck.
I also wish you the best of luck doing whatever it is you do until it's time to play again. There's always hockey and The Masked Singer. Okay, hockey. There are plenty of ways to kill time. You could even see your family. They probably miss you by now. Have some fun with them and I'll see you in the summertime.
Do you disagree with any of my lessons? What did you learn this season? Share your insight below.