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Welcome Back, Fantasy Football

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Here we go again.

Every year, the time comes... that time when everyone -- not just football fans -- falls victim to this culture of fantasy, where you can play GM for approximately the next six months like a little girl plays house with Barbie and Ken.

We don't think it's as artificial, but it is... the minute we started buying jerseys of professional athletes who are younger than us (as I'm now discovering, having just turned 24), it is the same.

All you think about for the next half-year will be fantasy football. Your team, your league, your competition. Unless, of course, you're somewhere in the bottom half of your league's standings. In that case, you'll probably lose interest for the second half of the year and indirectly guarantee victory to one of the teams atop the standings. Whenever one person caves, another triumphs.

Your couch smells like a stale vat of Chester's Cheetos (it's not easy being cheesy, after all), your dog hasn't had his teeth brushed since the end of August, and your girlfriend may as well not exist.

On Sundays, at least. (Click here for the theme song.)

Football season is the only time that democrats and Canadians will watch Fox.

Sundays are a new time, a new kind of day. God was once God. Now, God is Aaron Rodgers, or Adrian Peterson, or Ray Rice. In my occasion, I have to put Holy Faith into Rice. He was my first pick, after all. Many are praying that Peyton Manning or Tom Brady regain heavenly form.

(NOTE: I would have said 'Michael Vick' because of his fantasy value, but I think we all know how offensive and sacrilegious that would be. Offensive to Aaron Rodgers, that is.)

You've never put money on anything in your life... until now. "Just this once," you say. Or, "fantasy doesn't count as gambling."

But, fantasy football is built off the same pillars as low-life, low-odds Vegas-style gambling. It's built off this little thought that is buried somewhere deep in the darkest corners of your brain that tells you, "You are good. You know it all. You will win. Somebody has to, right? Why not you?"

Is saying, "I'll take Ray Rice" any different than saying, "I'll put 10 on red"? I don't think so.

Fantasy football is unique because of its draft. It's unique because anybody really can play it. The only fantasy sport that comes close to football in its fantasy scope is baseball and, oddly, I think baseball is much bigger for fantasy than football. Baseball is fantasy at its most serious. People kill over fantasy baseball. People's lives change.

Football owners think they're as crazy as baseball owners, but they're not. They plead with you, saying things like, "You don't know what our league is like!" almost as if they're a kid who has only ever had his dad's cooking. "You don't know how good my dad can cook!"

But, then again, isn't that why fantasy football is so special? Isn't it because anybody can do it, or rather because anybody can think they can do it?

If you don't know how to play fantasy baseball -- if you don't know the third pitcher in Baltimore's order -- then you'll figure it out pretty quick. You'll realize very quickly that you're not meant to be there.

Football's not like that. Anybody feels like they belong in football. Even if you're that guy that took Chad Ochocinco in round four (there was one of those in our draft), you still have this confidence that you took the right guy. You still think you've run the show. Everyone thinks their team is the best.

Unless, of course, they had it on auto draft, in which case it "obviously wasn't their fault" and they "obviously wouldn't have picked that team."

(NEWSFLASH: Anybody who doesn't care enough to show up for a draft would have picked that team. You can't fake knowledge any more than you can fake commitment.)

I once heard about a guy (a friend of a friend) that told his girlfriend he wanted to break up for the fall so he could concentrate on playing video games... but, this will be worse.

Because, in that case, I would like to believe that that fellow still knew his girlfriend existed when he was sitting in his own urine on his parents' couch playing Halo.

In fantasy football? You'll be laying in your own stew (yes, "stew") with your hand permanently entrenched in a bag of Doritos and you won't remember your girlfriend's name unless it's printed in bold letters across the front of Suzy Kolber's windbreaker.

There have been a few times in my life that have passed by like a blur... as if they've never existed, or like they've existed in some parallel universe. They've moved to such a different beat from the rest of my life that, when I'm in them, I don't remember what happened before and I can't imagine what will happen after. The Vancouver Olympics were one. My first year in residence at the University of Western Ontario was another.

Fantasy football does that every year, for half a year.

Welcome back, my old friend.

This "article" was originally "published" on White Cover Magazine.

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