Fantasy football, where I'm living a life of illusion

For the spouse of a fantasy football fanatic, the wedding vows involved a questionable draft pick.

September 13, 2012|Chris Erskine
  • Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, top, and Washington's Robert Griffin III, bottom, were pleasant fantasy football surprises on Sunday; Carolina's DeAngelo Williams not so much.
Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, top, and Washington's Robert… (Clockwise, from top left:…)

Just shoot me the next time I decide to run two fantasy football leagues simultaneously. Keep in mind that Roger Goodell runs just one league, the NFL, and what a disaster that thing is. No one watches. They don't even have real refs.

What I've done — and you can borrow this — is pass off one of the two leagues (a father-son fantasy league) as a new Cub Scout troop run entirely by the dads.

At our first troop meeting, we held our draft. A couple of the dads wore yellow kerchiefs and bear repellent just to sell the whole Cub Scout concept.

I'll admit that my wife almost choked on her Cheerios and Chardonnay when all the 9-year-olds had to pony up 10 bucks, and she couldn't understand all the talk about "points per touchdown."

"Exactly what kind of Cub Scout troop is this?" she demanded later.

"The Cub Scout troop of the future," I told her, and I really believe that.

What a September this is turning out to be. We have two ranked college football teams, and the playoffs for our two MLB teams basically have already begun, every game a mitzvah.

So, if your husband suddenly seems happier, credit this bountiful fall harvest. If he seems a little glum, he probably drafted DeAngelo Williams (minus-1 yard, no TDs). Rub his shoulders. Pour him a cold, foamy beverage. Remind him that life is not all lollipops and whiskey.

Here's the thing: If you work it properly, fantasy football can really enhance a marriage, as long as the non-playing spouse (often, the wife) is willing to suspend the sense that it is a total waste of time and played only by total tools.

Because when you think about it, on your wedding day your wife made a questionable draft pick. It's just that she shares you now with fantasy football in a sort of touchdown-infused love triangle. And in marriage there are no waivers.

My wife is mad at me, for example, because I insist on taking has-been receivers in the early to middle rounds. Well, that's not exactly why she's mad at me. That's more of why I'm mad at myself.

Honestly, my other fantasy league — the adult one — is so bad that two readers recruited in this space a few weeks ago — Steve Hinden and Rick Hahn — are leading the West division.

And as commissioner, I fired myself twice — first when I couldn't get the frappin' ESPN site to launch, and the second time for abusive language.

Since Tuesday, I've paced the den, growling lyrics from Moody Blues songs:

"Breathe deep the gathering gloom, watch lights fade from every room...."

"Mommy, is Daddy going to be OK?" a kid asks.

"No," she says.

That's fantasy football. Nothing else matters so little, yet so much.

And as my buddy Martin explained, guys are generally social misfits, with an almost paralyzing fear of intimacy. If they didn't have fantasy football, they would have no friends at all.

Which is pretty true, especially for Martin. Come to think of it, it's especially true for me as well.

Fantasy football is for realists — guys who can't stand the Brian Setzer Orchestra because it's not really an orchestra (it's hardly even a band). It's for romantics too — guys who still dream of marrying Susan Anton (anyone over 45).

For fantasy football widows, understanding is the first step toward recovery. To gauge your spouse's fantasy football addiction, ask him these things:

1) How many fantasy teams do you have?

2) How much money have you invested in "league fees"?

3) How much is all this cutting into your work?

4) Do you still even have a job?

5) Quick, what are our kids' names?

6) When I stand directly in front of you naked, do you see me or are you trying to figure out which running back to waive?

7) Can you believe the week RG3 had? And how about Adrian Peterson?

My guess is that your husband will stare blankly at you till you get to No. 7, at which point he'll grow animated and chat your ear off as if on a first date. Then he might ask you to marry him all over again.

See, in a healthy and resilient marriage, his interests should intersect with your interests.

Besides ...

Fantasy football participants "have elevated brain levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, the same neurotransmitters involved in passion and libido," says clinical psychologist Nancy Lee of Beverly Hills. "So once these football enthusiasts turn away from their interactive game, there's all that lusty energy floating around for some heightened amorous interaction.

"Presumably with their spouses, of course."

Oh Nancy, don't be so cynical.

Los Angeles Times Articles