On Sunday morning, I spent at least twenty minutes trying to decide if I should watch the Colts game. I didn’t really want to watch that game. There were several match-ups that were more appealing to me. But my fantasy football team, the Sunnydale Slayers, was playing in the championship game (for the 4th time in 5 years) and I wanted to make sure I didn’t jinx myself.
So here’s the question I really needed to answer: Does Andrew Luck, my fantasy football quarterback, play better when I watch his games or when I don’t? I seriously–if briefly–considered going back through the season and checking his stats against my football watching choices. Would a meaningful pattern emerge?
Then I came to my senses.
I am a rational person. A hyper-rational person.
But when you’re serious about your fantasy football play, I’m not quite sure you can keep yourself from developing little rituals and routines to live by. Fantasy football mojo. Magical thinking.
For instance. I am superstitious about wearing my AP jersey on Sundays.
I believe–no, more than believe, I know–that my team plays better if I’m wearing my jersey. So much better, in fact, that they are virtually guaranteed a win as long as I have my jersey on before kick-off.
The first time I forgot to wear my jersey on Sunday, my team lost. HOW CAN THAT NOT BE PROOF?
(And if you’re wondering how I could possibly forget my jersey when I’m all about the football mojo, well, all I can say in my defense is that parenting children with Reactive Attachment Disorder occasionally distracts one from essentials like the lucky #28 jersey). (And also, I didn’t realize how powerful the jersey mojo was until I lost because I wasn’t wearing it!)
And if you’re not yet convinced, I have more evidence: I had to travel twice on Sundays for conferences this past semester–and I didn’t wear my jersey–AND MY TEAM LOST BOTH THOSE GAMES TOO. For the second Sunday travel, I had figured out the pattern, so I told my husband that he had to wear my jersey on Sunday to make sure my team won.
I had taken care of the problem. I had arranged for the mojo. I felt serene, knowing the Slayers would win.
AND THEN MY HUSBAND LET MY SON WEAR MY JERSEY.
And my team lost.
I don’t wear my jersey on Mondays for the Monday night game. I usually don’t need to. Because I also believe in winning big. Crushing. Dominating.
I don’t know what it is about fantasy football that makes me this way. Ordinarily, I am mild-mannered, almost pathetically under-competitive. But something about fantasy football makes me hyper-competitive.
Perhaps it’s merely that I surprised myself by being very good at it. I named my first team after Jane Austen (the Pemberly Pride), and I won back to back championships in a league dominated by men who had been playing for ten or fifteen years. I was the BJ Penn of fantasy football–a prodigy!
It’s Brett Favre in an awesome pink cape after the Pemberly Pride won its first championship! (A custom creation from my husband to commemorate the occasion.) (Because he believes championships should be celebrated with prizes of some kind.) (And he thinks figures make awesome prizes.)
Perhaps it’s because I’ve never really done anything competitive before–no sports, no games, no races. Maybe I really am competitive: I just didn’t know it before.
In any case, fantasy football makes me crazy for wins, big wins.
By halftime of the 49ers game last night, I decided it was time to put on the jersey.
I had gone into the game with a very comfortable 40-point lead and still a kicker and one IDP to go, but my opponent had two running backs and Navarro Bowman, who, as I kept pointing out to my husband, could have a 20-point game any week.
At halftime, my IDP guy was laying a big fat egg, and my kicker only had 4 points. Steven Jackson had a touchdown, Jaquizz Rogers didn’t yet have an injury, and Navarro Bowman was having the big game I predicted. (He went on to score 22 points.)
I needed the AP mojo.
The jersey went on at halftime, and small good things started happening for my team. Another field goal, some extra points. A few tackles from my IDP guy. In the end, even the crazy pick 6 by Bowman wasn’t enough to close the gap. The final score wasn’t the crushing defeat I like to deliver, but it was still a comfortable 15-point margin.
I did not celebrate. I did not smile. I did not even sigh with relief. I didn’t need to. Inside, I felt serene, knowing the Slayers did exactly what they were supposed to do. Win.
My husband was mystified by my lack of jubilation over this win. After all, I have played for the championship 4 times with this team and always come up second. He thought I’d be jumping around with joy–or at least shut off Twitter for 5 seconds and take a moment to celebrate.
But if at first I was the BJ Penn of fantasy football, now I’m the Kobe Bryant–silent, deadly, and absolutely certain that I am going to win.
Just as long as I’ve got my AP jersey on.
My husband tried to take (and I quote) a “majestic” photo of my AP statue, a present from him after I won my second championship. And then this happened:
AP tries to get away:
But Frances ends up biting his foot:
Apologies to my mother for this sporty post. I hope it is somewhat redeemed by silly pictures. And a glossary:
AP=Adrian Peterson, a phenomenally gifted running back who plays for the Vikings. He was on my very first championship team (along with Kurt Warner, in the final glorious year of his career, and Brett Favre), and now, six years later, he’s the main running back on my second championship-winning team.
IDP=Individual Defensive Player. If they score in double digits, they’ve had a great game.
BJ Penn=Mixed Martial Artist who was nicknamed The Prodigy for his jiu-jitsu skills. He won the World title in jiu-jitsu just three weeks after receiving his black belt, which sounds pretty prodigious to me.
Kobe Bryant=basketball player for the Lakers. Nicknamed himself the Black Mamba, which is kind of tiresome but really, when you play like Kobe, I think you can call yourself any darn thing you want to. One of my all-time favorite Kobe moments was an interview I saw where the interviewer asked him how he keeps throwing up shots when he’s having a bad shooting night. He looked at the interviewer a bit perplexed and then said he keeps shooting because he knows for certain that the next shot is going in.
I think even my mom knows who Brett Favre is!