If it’s September, it means, once, 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.
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 (a source of pure evil), Robbie (Stoner’s best friend; good for at least one fantasy-inspired fistfight per season, usually with Stoner), Jack (our defending champion and 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 a fistfight.)
The league has remained stable yet again. T.J., as always, was the wild card, given that his wife controls all of their finances and wasn’t sure she’d give T.J. the entry fee money. (This despite the fact T.J. is the only source of income in the household.) Plus, she doesn’t like to let T.J. out of her sight (something that T.J. actually justifies every time she does let him out of her sight.) But T.J. is in the corner booth when I arrive. He’s already working on his second beer and I’m assuming he started the evening with a shot. Let the games begin.
While Mitch, the owner of The Tav, has once again accommodated us with the semi-secluded corner table, there’s another table within earshot and it’s filled with mental-defectives wearing Packers’ jerseys. Jack, wearing a Jared Allen jersey that probably hasn’t been washed since Jared Allen was a Viking, gives them the atomic stinkeye as he approaches our table.
“You guys are going to the Super Bowl,” one of them says, “To watch.”
“Yeah, well,” Jack says, looking for a crusher of a comeback, “F**k you.”
(Jack isn’t much for witty repartee.)
Stoner, meanwhile, is at his evil best (if “best” is the word I’m looking for.) He’s quick to order a pitcher and make sure that Mike’s and T.J.’s glasses are constantly refilled. (Mike’s and T.J.’s fantasy acumen works in inverse proportion to their blood alcohol level.) He’s also brought his grandma along and announces that she will be conducting the draft for him, since she knows at least as much about fantasy football as Robbie. While the rest of us play Jesus Quintana and recognize this as bush league psych out stuff, laughable (Ha!), Robbie buys into it, hook, line and sinker. His face gets red and contorted, making him look like Brock Lesnar taking a dump. It probably doesn’t help that Robbie’s girlfriend, Jodi, is at the table. Giving Stoner the opportunity to embarrass Robbie in front of a girlfriend is like throwing red meat in front of Dracula.
Meantime, certain other fantasy draft “traditions” come into play: I have to remind Lars that he does not get a refund on any mythical money he does not spend, I turn down Robbie’s request to call his team Hugh Farted, I remind Stoner (who gets the number one pick in the draft) that he’s not allowed to trade down. While this is going on, Robbie gives me grief about only five people ever reading my columns. (He’s so wrong. It’s at least ten.) Chuck loses a tie-breaker to Lars for draft position and mumbles something about Lars needing luck starting his car (everyone then slides away from Chuck.) Stoner’s grandma orders a boilermaker and argues with the waitress about the restaurant’s No Smoking policy while trying to light a stogie.
Yeah, this is going to be fun.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ROUND ONE
-Stoner, or more accurately, Stoner’s grandma chooses Carson Palmer with the number one pick in the draft. Everyone’s so stunned, nobody bids against her and Palmer belongs to Stoner for the low, low price of $2 mythical dollars.
“Crafty,” Lars mutters, “I wonder if she’s been masterminding Stoner’s drafts this entire time?”
Cripe. Robbie’s not the only one who’s been psyched out. (Assuming, of course, that Lars has an out to psych.
-Jack continues to jaw with the Packers’ fans. He questions Aaron Rodgers’ sexuality while they remind him that the Vikings haven’t won any Super Bowls and he responds by giving them the finger. Not exactly the Lincoln-Douglas debates going on here.
-Chuck gets into a bidding war with Stoner’s grandma over Tom Brady. After Chuck gets Brady by paying way more than he wanted, he gives Stoner’s grandma the evil eye. We begin exploring the possibility of getting Chuck a separate table.
-Jack manages to land both Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, setting up the 9 point combo that most everyone else gave up 25 years ago. To celebrate, Jack hikes up his parachute pants and listens to Color Me Badd CDs on his walkman.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ROUNDS TWO THROUGH FOUR
-Carol asks about what the PUP list means, prompting this exchange:
ROBBIE: Physically Unable to Perform.
STONER: Or as Robbie’s girlfriend calls it: Robbie.
ROBBIE: F**k you, Stoner!
Jodi rubs Robbie’s arm in an effort to calm him down. Stoner’s grandma does nothing, apparently still pissed about not being able to light the stogie.
-Robbie takes Rob Gronkowski, prompting Gronk to quote: “Gronk happy to be on team. Gronk not have to remember owner’s name. Gronk just call him Gronk.”
-Stoner tries to convince an increasingly-drunk T.J. to draft Julian Edelman. T.J. seems to seriously consider the move until the memory of Edelman being lost for the season to a knee injury makes it through the waves of alcohol. T.J. makes a snide remark about Stoner and Stoner’s grandma smacks T.J. on the back of the head.
-Jack overpays for Vikings RB Dalvin Cook, prompting jeers from the Packers’ fans. Jack invokes the memory of Eddie Lacy and the Packers’ fans reminds him their team has actually won Super Bowls. Robbie’s girlfriend, Jodi, defends Jack, telling the Packers’ fans they are being “really mean”. Shockingly, this has no effect.
-Mike gets Eric Decker, prompting a round of “Mike’s got Big Dick Decker” from the peanut gallery. Nobody here under the age of 33. Seems worth mentioning.
-T.J. outbids Stoner’s grandma to land Mark Ingram. She growls something about T.J. being a “punk ass bitch.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF ROUNDS FOUR THROUGH EIGHT
-It’s worth mentioning that Jodi is wearing a blue dress that’s a bit low-cut. I confess this because as both a hetrosexual male and a person with functioning eyesight, I’m going to notice these things. I also mention it because T.J., who has more alcohol than blood at this point, certainly notices it and has an even better view of Cleveland than I do. It could be why we’ve had to snap our fingers and remind T.J. that it’s his turn for three consecutive rounds.
-I’ve written in the past about Mike’s insane loyalty to Drew Brees. This year, Mike spent most of his mythical money putting together a backfield of LaSean McCoy and Jay Ajayi. So much so that Stoner’s grandma easily outbids him for Brees, even though Stoner already has a starting QB. Lars mutters under his breath, “That lady is MEAN.” Chuck gives her an appreciative smile. This kind of smile.
-T.J. picks up DeSean Jackson, prompting Mike to say, “DeSean Jackson? Is that still a thing?”
-The run of kickers starts with Hal drafting Mason Crosby. He gets a round of applause from the Packers’ fans. Hal, being the closest thing we have to an adult here, gives them a good-natured wave, thus earning Jack’s lifelong wrath.
-Similarly, Mike gets cheered by Jack and Robbie for selecting Blair Walsh. Somewhere in Mike’s beer-addled brain, he suddenly realizes he’s consigned himself to BLAIR FREAKING WALSH. We may have the season’s first roster move before the draft even ends.
-Carol drafts Chanderanderkinsbinglefredosamwellkendricklamardandarick West, meaning I’m going to have to write that freakin’ name down on my fantasy cheat sheet for the next 12 weeks. The over/under on when I leave a flaming bag of dog turds on Carol’s front step is 3 weeks.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE REST OF THE DRAFT
-Carol takes Pierre Garcon, prompting a round of “Garcon means boy.” I’m certain we only found that funny because we’re all pretty hammered at this point.
-Speaking of hammered, T.J. has abandoned the pretense of making eye contact and is speaking directly to Jodi’s cleavage. “Don’t get me wrong,” he slurs, “I love my wife and my kid. Kids. I have two. Or so. I mean, she’s a good woman. The wife, I mean. I don’t blame her for anything. She can’t help being a castrating shrew. That’s just who she is. It’s my fault, really. I knew she was like that when I married her. Her gaining weight. THAT I didn’t see coming.”
Hal carefully switches chairs with T.J., both to prevent Robbie from beating the hell out of T.J. and to keep T.J. from vomiting into Jodi’s bosom.
-Stoner and I pass each other on the way to and from the men’s room. I stop him to ask, “Is that your actual grandma?”
“Ah, hell no. One of my grandmas lives in Arizona and the other one thinks its 1943. That lady’s Flora. She’s my landlady. I just brought her to psych out Robbie.”
“Mission accomplished. But I think Chuck’s got a little crush on her.”
Stoner winces. “She’ll break him in half.”
I don’t even want to know how he knows that.
-I take Darren McFadden, who’s done nothing but let me down every time I’ve drafted him. He’s like an ex-girlfriend that you keep going back to, even though she’s mean-spirited and not particularly intelligent and can’t stand any of your friends, but the sex is…really not all that great. You can’t figure out WHY the hell you keep going back to her. Darren McFadden. My crazy ex-girlfriend.
-How The Mighty Have Fallen Department: Adrian Peterson gets taken in something like the 10th round. As soon as Chuck picks him, there’s a moment of stunned silence at the table, like we just found out somebody died. Hal mutters, “Wow. That just happened.”
-When Jack takes Latavius Murray from the Vikings, the Packers’ fans serenade him with a chant of “Sloppy seconds”. This proves to be the last straw for Jack, who storms over to the table, followed closely by Jodi and Robbie. The following occurs:
- Jack shouts at the lead Packer’s fan.
- The Fan insults Jodi.
- Jodi slaps The Fan.
- The Fan punches Robbie.
- Everyone at both tables jumps up, ready to throw down.
- Chuck starts making out with Stoner’s grandma.
Meantime, Hal is waving his badge around, trying to avoid a full-scale riot. Lars and I run to get Mitch, the owner, hoping that we can get out in front of this and avoid being permanently kicked out of our favorite hangout. T.J. tries to follow us, but winds up falling asleep under one of the tables. We get back to the scene with Mitch just in time to stop Robbie from drowning one of the Packer fans in a pitcher of Michelob. At that point, I declare the draft over.
And another season is off and running!
For your edification…
The Rat Pack (Me)
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner)
Brian’s Song (Carol, because she has a crush on Brian Dozier from the Twins and doesn’t actually know what the movie Brian’s Song is about.)
The Defenders (Mike)
Rodgers Blows (Robbie)
Lethal Injection (Jack)
The Electric Mayhem (Hal)
The People in the Band (Lars)
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.)