If it’s September, it means, for the 8th year in a row, it’s time for my fantasy football league draft. Let the games begin!
THE RULES: the draft goes 14 rounds. By the end, everyone must be able to field a starting lineup (a QB, 2 RBs, 3 WR/TEs, a kicker and a defense/special teams.) It’s done auction-style, meaning everyone is given a hundred mythical dollars and allowed to bid on the players. (And I anticipate that for the 8th year in a row, I will have to explain to my buddy Lars that he does not get a refund if he doesn’t spend all of his mythical money.)
THE PLACE: an extra-large corner booth at The Tav, our traditional Cathedral Hill hangout.
THE PEOPLE: Me (the Commish), Mike (my best friend), Carol (representing feminism), Lars (representing the lunatic fringe), Chuck (Lars’ buddy, who used to co-own a team with Lars but we split them up a few years back after Lars engineered a terrible trade and Chuck challenged him to a duel), T.J. (enjoying the one night of the year his wife lets him out of the house), Stoner (who’s pure evil), Robbie (Stoner’s best friend; good for at least one fantasy-inspired fistfight per season, usually with Stoner), Jack (a guy who spends over 100 hours preparing for this, then refuses to draft any Packers players because he’s such a Vikings homer) and Hal (a St. Paul cop who became buddies with Robbie and Stoner after arresting them during their last fistfight.)
We have a pretty good atmosphere in the league. There haven’t been many conflicts over the years, save for the aforementioned Lars-Chuck kerfuffle and the season Robbie sat out because I wouldn’t let him call his team Hugh Farted. But otherwise it’s good to see everyone.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ROUND ONE
-Stoner buys Mike a whiskey and I offer to buy the next round. Mike gladly accepts because he’s the only guy in the league who doesn’t realize that whiskey turns him into a gibbering buffoon within four rounds.
-Robbie gets the first pick and immediately gets into a bidding war with Lars over Aaron Rodgers. Lars wins when Robbie won’t bid $50. The table goes quiet while Robbie sulks and everyone crosses Rodgers off their cheat sheets. Stoner nods sympathetically and tells Robbie, “That time of the month, sweetheart?” Hal and Jack are forced to restrain Robbie from jumping over the table and taking a swing at Stoner. We’re off to a flying start.
-Mike puts in a bid for Drew Brees because he had success with Brees five years ago and can’t emotionally let go. Stoner turns it into a bidding war, knowing Mike will take the bait. Sure enough, Stoner backs down when Mike has spent $45 mythical dollars for a guy older than all of us. Mike celebrates for a few seconds, then looks like somebody stole his wallet.
-Lars and Jack get into a mild bidding war over Marshawn Lynch. Lars has the high bid at $20 and says, “I like Lynch. He’s an iconoclast, like me.” Jack’s so confused by the word “iconoclast” that he forgets to put in another bid and Lars gets Marshawn Lynch.
-Lars, having spent 65 mythical dollars on two players, decides to put in a $1 bid for New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Stoner baits him into a bidding war and backs off when Lars has spent $5 on a player the rest of us would have let him have for $1. (Doing an auction draft with Stoner is like playing poker with a guy who has a mouthful of gold teeth.)
-Carol puts in a bid for Peyton Manning. The rest of us, knowing Carol has a crush on him and believing Manning to be washed up, are content to let her have him. Robbie suddenly emerges from his sulk/coma and outbids her. Carol will have to settle for taking Eli Manning in a later round. I assume Robbie’s going to follow up by clubbing some baby seals.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ROUNDS TWO THROUGH FOUR
-Robbie completely overpays for Rob Gronkowski, egged on by a bidding war with Stoner. When Robbie tries to gloat, Stoner simply sits back and raises an eyebrow as if to say, “Well, that certainly puts me in MY place.” Robbie looks like he’s been caught with his fly open. (The lesson, as always, Stoner’s evil.)
-Chuck, running low on funds, puts in a bid for Odell Beckham Jr and then glares at the rest of the table. Everyone, even Stoner, is too creeped out to bid against him. I think Chuck should be in a prison league next year.
-T.J. starts hitting on our waitress, a sure sign he’s been dipping into the pitcher too much. An annual goal at the draft is to keep T.J. from going overboard. His life is so infused with domestic bliss that when he gets out of the house and gets a few drinks in him, he turns into Charlie Sheen on a Friday night. While we all love T.J., it’s not really him we’re concerned about. See, Mrs. T.J. is a lovely young lady who would probably make Rhonda Rousey s**t her pants for a cowardly soul. And none of us want the job of explaining T.J.’s unfortunate infidelity and/or horrible death to his fearsome ex-wife and/or widow. So we start sliding glasses of water his direction and Jack takes over hitting on the waitress. This last development pretty much guarantees we’ll be getting our drinks from the bar for the rest of the night.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ROUNDS FOUR THROUGH EIGHT
-With funds starting to dwindle, a run on defenses begins. This is a pretty genteel affair until Mike takes Green Bay’s defense and Jack starts pelting him with napkins.
-The whiskey is finally running Mike’s operation, leading to this exchange:
MIKE: (perusing his cheat sheet for a draft pick) LaSean McCoy.
ME: He’s taken.
MIKE: (Indignant) Who took him?!
ME: You did. Two rounds ago.
Carol quietly starts collecting money for cab fare.
-Jack takes Todd Gurley, leading to a round of taunting from Robbie and Stoner. Both of these guys are 33 and have college degrees. That seems worth mentioning.
-Hal has the traditional “I WAY overvalued this guy” moment, which results in this exchange.
HAL: Sam Bradford, 10 dollars.
(Silence at the table)
ME: I bid 8.
-Lars takes Nelson Agholor, largely because it sounds like a professional wrestler’s name. We’ve officially reached the silly rounds.
-Jack takes Blair Walsh, which means he now has three Vikings in his starting line-up. I’m going to have to stop him before he starts throwing his mythical money directly into a mythical wastebasket.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE REST OF THE DRAFT
-Mike gives us the How The Mighty Have Fallen Moment of the night by drafting Larry Fitzgerald…in the ninth round. (Seriously, judging by the mood at the table, you’d think somebody died.)
-Lars uses his final $1 to put a bid in on Amari Cooper. Stoner outbids him for no other reason than to be a dick.
-Mike takes Buck Allen, then sits at the table, giggling and saying, “Buck, Buck, Buck, Buck” to himself. We’re going to have to wrap this up soon.
-Lars picks Aaron Dobson, allowing me my annual joke to the tune of, “Lars takes something called Aaron Dobson.”
-We end the bidding portion of the draft and do a straight pick ’em draft to allow everybody to fill out their rosters. Hal wins the annual Red McCombs Award for having spent the least amount of mythical money (I’ll be honest, I thought we were going to retire that trophy with Lars.)
-By this point, everyone’s grabbing the names that sit at the bottom of their cheat sheets, largely so they can just fill out the rosters. Most of the guys in these rounds will be dead and/or in the CFL by opening weekend.
-Stoner picks Boobie Allen for no other reason than to crack up the entire table. Just when you think the guy’s totally despicable…
-The draft ends and I let everyone know I’ll have the rosters posted on our website. Carol pours Mike and T.J. into separate cabs. Hal gives Stoner and Robbie a ride home, which is good because he won’t have to travel far for their next drunk-and-disorderly brawl (one stop shopping.) Jack tries to get the waitress’ phone number, but she gives it to me instead. (Actually, it’s the number for her boyfriend and a threat to call him the next time I bring Jack into The Tav.)
Another season is off and running!
For your edification…
The Rat Pack (Me)
The Winter Soldiers (Mike)
Peyton’s Heroes (Carol)
The Sex Machine (Lars)
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.)
Deflated Balls (Robbie)
Favre’s Dong (Jack)
The Electric Mayhem (Hal)
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner)