Well, the holiday weekend brought us peace, love, rampant commercialism and a new fantasy football champion. I was out of town, so I can’t be entirely sure what Carol’s reaction was to losing her second straight Fantasy Bowl, but I imagine her Christmas weekend looked something like this…
All right, in the words of Frank Costanza during the Festivus Airing of Grievances, “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re going to hear about it!” Let’s get to it…
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH (YEAR-END EDITION)
FANTASY OWNER OF THE WEEK: Jack
Yeah, I know this is a year-end addition, but I’ve got to give props to Jack, our new fantasy league champion. When I was looking over tie-breaker scenarios near the end of the regular season, I was shocked to discover there were a couple in which Jack would be left out. I remember thinking, “Jack’s team is WAY too good to miss the playoffs.” And his run proved that, as he defeated our defending champion and BOTH division winners. Here’s to you, you lucky, lucky bastard.
FANTASY OWNER OF THE YEAR: Hal
Taking nothing away from Jack (although, really, I’m taking something away from Jack) but Hal had the best team in the league this year, by far. Week after week, he crushed his opponents like he was the second coming of the Soviet hockey team (coming again soon!) If his team hadn’t decided to take a group toidy in the semi-final round of the playoffs, Hal would be holding the league’s traveling trophy as we speak. Instead, he and his wife are currently engaged in some sort of horrible hate sex involving whips, chains and whistles. (Not really. Hal told me he didn’t have the heart to read this column, so I figured I could write whatever I wanted about him. Seriously, you should have seen the stuff my editor made me cut.)
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ezekiel Elliot
It’s a mark of how mentally thick I am that I spent most of the season wondering why my team was doing so well. They were a mediocre bunch, to be sure. Only after I was eliminated from the playoffs did it finally dawn on me that one spot on my roster made me competitive in just about every game: the running back position. And by “running back position”, I mean Ezekiel Elliot. The Dallas rookie was an absolute BEAST this season. He compiled nearly 2,000 total yards and scored 16 TDs. Whoever gets his services in 2017 will have to pay through the (mythical) nose to get him. Assuming, of course, he isn’t suspended from the league on domestic abuse charges. (Welcome to the modern NFL!)
DUMBASS OWNER OF THE YEAR: Chuck
I don’t normally make fun of Lars’ buddy, Chuck. There are two reasons for this: 1) Lars doesn’t like it and 2) I have the vague, but insistent suspicion that Chuck is capable of breaking into my place and murdering me in my sleep. (One of those reasons might carry a little more weight than the other.) But there’s no getting around the fact that Chuck was the prototype Owner Who Keeps Juggling His Lineup and Getting The Wrong Combination. It was a close “battle” between Chuck and T.J. for the “winner” of this “award”. But T.J. just had a crappy team. Chuck had some good players and couldn’t his s**t together. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a security system to install.
FANTASY BUST OF THE YEAR: Cam Newton
A year ago, I had to continually throw up in my mouth while awarding Cam Newton the Fantasy Player of the Year and declaring him a great NFL QB and team leader. Newton rewarded my efforts by regressing into a half-assed player and surly malcontent. It’s like he decided to spread his crappy Super Bowl effort over an entire season. Nobody suffered this more than Mike, who spent TONS of mythical dollars on Newton and got a Trump Hotel-like return on his investment. Newton produced half the passing TDs, rushing TDs and rushing yardage he did a year ago. For those of you who are concerned, Mike is doing just fine. He IS planning a road trip to Charlotte to piss on Cam Newton’s lawn, but otherwise…
ASSCLOWN OF THE YEAR: Roger Goodell
I’ve made a habit of going after the NFL’s Clown-in-Chief, so I’ll just repeat a few things I’ve already pointed out. This season, Goodell…
-Initially refused to let the Browns and the Titans participate in the league’s new “My Cause, My Cleats” (in which players are allowed to promote charitable causes on their cleats) because the two teams were on bye during that particular week. While Goodell did back down, it reinforced the NFL’s “we’re about the bucks” mentality.
-Continued to advocate for an 18 game season as injuries to star players mounted.
-Continued to sweep the NFL’s growing concussion problem under the rug.
-Had commercials designed to create awareness of domestic violence placed on NFL programming. Normally, that’s admirable in intent (and still is),. but given Goodell’s piss-poor response to domestic abuse cases involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Josh Brown, it just comes off as hypocritical.
-Said, after the Giants notified the league that the Steelers were using footballs they suspected were below minimum inflation standards, “The Giants had asked us about it during the game.” The league later backtracked and said Goodell meant to say the Giants raised the concern AFTER the game. This is significant because the league would have been required to take action if the Giants had brought it up DURING the game. There’s not enough evidence to suggest that Goodell sat on his hands and did nothing in the hope that the whole thing would go away and he wouldn’t have to deal with another Deflategate…but since when has Goodell been big on evidence?
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE AWARD: The Minnesota Vikings
After five weeks of the season, the Vikings had lost starting QB Teddy Bridgewater and starting OT Matt Khalil for the season and All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson for most of the season. However, the team was 5-0. GM Rick Spielman had pulled off a blockbuster trade to bring in QB Sam Bradford and head coach Mike Zimmer was being lauded for keeping his team focused AND for creating one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Vikes, it was said, would be a tough out come January.
As we stand on the precipice of the final week of the regular season, the Vikings are 7-8 and out of the playoffs. They will be facing a logjam at QB next season. They aren’t sure what’s going to happen with the aging Peterson. And the team’s defensive backs apparently ignored Zimmer’s game plan during a Week 16 loss at Green Bay. So to recap: the team rolled the bones in order to make a run at the Super Bowl and now have a roster in disarray, a coach that’s losing control of his players and a team that has regressed from division winners to third-best team in said division. Oh, and the number of people bitching about their tax money being used to fund a stadium for a lousy team is starting to look like the number of presents delivered in NORAD’s Santa Tracker.
Same old Vikings. Good to have you back.
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart, (Jon, we need you brother) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: Lessons I’ve Learned
As always, the final moment of zen covers lessons I’ve learned over the course of the season. To whit:
Sometime in the future (assuming football hasn’t been outlawed) I think people are going to look at what Bill Belichick’s accomplished with the New England Patriots and wonder why the hell so many people IN THAT TIME couldn’t appreciate what was going on. A decade-and-a-half dominating a division, six Super Bowl appearances and four victories (add “and counting” to all of that.) Like him or hate him, you are witnessing what would’ve happened if Vince Lombardi had stuck around Green Bay for another half-decade.
I know this will sound sarcastic, but it’s not. I really look forward to Rex Ryan becoming a broadcaster. I hope they use him as a color guy on games rather than a studio talking head. He’s got the potential to be the most entertaining broadcaster since John Madden.
Not only do I like the new “extra point from the 25 yard line” rule, I think the NFL should widen the hashmarks like college football does, creating potentially difficult angles from which to hit a FG. Make these little bastards WORK for a living. (As compensation, though, I’m becoming more open to the idea of a four point FG.)
The guy whose “business acumen” killed the USFL will be sworn in as U.S. President in three weeks.
Frequently, I look at this past year and think, “Thank God Bowie isn’t alive to see this.”
Anybody else get the feeling the Cowboys are succeeding IN SPITE of Jerry Jones and not because of him?
Here’s an idea, just putting it out there: put Roger Goodell in pads and have him go through ONE full contact practice. Then see if he continues to push for an 18 game season.
Good luck, Chargers, on being the second NFL team in a city that didn’t seem too nuts about having ONE.
Finally, I’ve learned that Fantasy Football is a vicious game that systematically rips your heart from your chest, tosses it on a dirty floor and pees all over it. Only a fool would put himself through that year after year.
And yes, I’ll be playing it again next fall.
YOUR FANTASY BOWL CHAMPION:
War Machine (Jack)