From Fantasy To Reality




GORDONVILLE – I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the Aaron Hernandez murder case lately.

And three names come to mind: Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez.

And no for the uninitiated – i.e. fairer sex – they do not comprise the legal defense Dream Team II, ready to swoop and rescue the accused Hernandez from a seeming lock for a life sentence in the alleged cold and calculated slaying of an “associate.”

With Hernandez in stripes, and teammate Ron Gronkowski on the mend from offseason surgery, the aforementioned comprise the other “elite” tight ends that suddenly move up the cheat sheets for the litany of fantasy football drafts that will be taking place next month.

Why, you may wonder, am I taking this twisted and demented view of the killing of a man?

Because, gulp, I am back in the game.

I pretty much gave up fantasy football around the time Sofia came into the world, but it turned out that itch I was feeling was not a mosquito bite.

The conduit for my old addiction, one I thought I had beaten, coming back to haunt me was Facebook.

I sent a private message to the guy who still runs my former league, the one I co-founded, and he said he wished he could get some of the clowns currently in the circuit to move along but, at present, there were no openings.

Part of me was disappointed, but another was relieved that I wouldn’t have to explain to my better half that I getting back into it.

Choosing to look on the bright side, I put this minor disappointment behind me.

But, as fate would have it, an old college chum, a Jewish guy who likes country music – we’ll call him Bucky Goldberg – messaged me saying his league had a spot open and asked if I was interested.

He added that he wasn’t sure if I had done the fantasy thing or not, but figured it was worth a try.

Ha, Bucky!

You’re talking to a draft-day specialist, perennial contender and multiple winning of championships here.

But also someone who doesn’t wear the pants in the family – a sad-but-true fact I had to reveal.

Peering out through the eye holes from the bag over my head, I told him I’d have to ask my wife.

With quivering knees, I submitted my application for approval, which she promptly stamped “denied” upon in the Gordonville Court of Common Pleas.

I didn’t even get the chance to argue about how I don’t do all the other things guys do – poker night, golf outings, shooting pool, bowling leagues, hunting/fishing trips, darts  etc. – while riding the hobby horse of life.

If it were a Democracy, the cruel and unusual treatment would have been unconstitutional.

However, upon appeal, I was granted tepid permission – but under the condition that if I became obsessed again, I would have to quit in the middle of the season.

In the middle of the season?


Forgive her, she knows not of what she speaks.

In the judges’ chambers, we hammered out a deal.

I explained that we are in the age of hand-held devices – app-loaded cell phones and iPads – I wouldn’t have to spend hours on end following games online (I once spent three-plus hours following a San Diego Chargers game on because I was in the playoffs, as per usual, and LaDainian Tomlinson held my fate in his hands).

At that point, I was granted one probationary season.

With that, I sprung right to action.

I contacted Bucky with the news, went right out and bought my first magazine to prep for the merciless act of drafting the rest of the league into submission and have played out D-Day (draft day, ladies) scenarios and strategies in my head.

I stumbled out of the starting gate, needing 129 tries to log onto the league website, but my team – “DaSopranos” (not my first choice for a name, but all the others were taken by someone in one of the leagues on the site that hosts my new league) – is now an official franchise.

I texted my good friend, the guy I co-founded the former league with, and secretly hoped he would sign on as consultant.

Instead, I got back “Ha Ha, have fun with that.”

My response: “The draft will be fun, probably all downhill from there.”

I was being modest. Barring injuries – I once had a player, Joey Galloway, pull up lame with hamstring injury minutes before a game (costing me a semifinal win) – it’s going to be a proverbial walk in the park.

The hope, though, is the years away have taught me to take it with a grain of salt.

Then again, salt is loaded with sodium.

And sodium is to blood pressure what tobacco is to lung cancer.

And the cheerleaders say: Give me an Oy. Give me a Vey. Oy … Vey. … Oy … Vey …

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