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Quick Inside Slant: Week 7

Impressions of the 2012 NFL Season as perceived by a Creative Writing graduate student, part-time amateur stand-up comedian and collegiate intramural flag football legend.

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By: Dustin Fisher

Well, he can’t fire himself for running the 31st ranked offense this season despite having super stars like Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy so Andy Reid decided to get rid of Juan Castillo for having an under-performing defense last year that actually really turned the corner this year.

Andy Reid just fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo after a 3-3 start in which their offense is ranked 31st in scoring and turnovers while the defense is ranked 12th overall. In related news, he also punched the monitor after his computer froze and then cut off his nose to spite his face.

I almost quit after last week. The Eagles blew another fourth quarter lead, this time a double-digit lead, with under four minutes in the game. And I didn’t even have the misfortune of watching the game. I followed it through little blue and green streaks of colors and text updates online, like playing Oregon Trail in the age of Halo. First there was the touchdown, then the field goal, then the two sacks, and finally the field goal in overtime. And though I only read about it 10 words at a time as the computer refreshed, I still got so upset at that last inevitable update, though I was admittedly conflicted at the touchdown, since I have Stafford on my fantasy team. Why do I put myself through this? I wish I just died of dysentery.

Rooting Interests

I got into fantasy football with the best of intentions. Trash talking among friends, a reason to watch a Chiefs/Browns Monday Night Football game, and occasionally scamming some money from my less football-knowledgeable friends. Since those auspicious beginnings, fantasy football has ruined my ability to watch football like a normal person. And by “normal person,” I mean people stuck in 1996. I remember when I used to sit down and watch a football game and root for one team to win (or lose in the case of the Jets) uninterrupted by other thoughts or competing interests. Now I’m in a pick ‘em league where I have to guess the winners of all games, I have three fantasy teams (my lowest since 2007), I play in my own actual football league against actual people, and I am allegedly and Eagles fan. Every week, I have teams to root for, individual people to root for, individual people to root against, and a team that I reluctantly want to win. Almost every week, I’ll have to root for players playing against the Eagles, against players playing for the Eagles, and sometimes even against the Eagles. About every other week, because of my inability to say no to free fantasy football league invites, I’ll have one player I need to root for and against. My actual football team plays no role in the outcome of any of these other things. It’s just something else I have to root for and I want people to think I’m cool.

I am by no means alone in this quandary. I used to be all over the map in terms of how to root for things. It stressed me out. It was like a series of interlocking venn diagrams trying to figure out what to root for. I recall one Monday Night a few years back when I needed Marty Booker (okay, maybe more than a few) to get me at least 7 points, but not 11. I was no longer watching a football game. I was watching the creation of a stat line. And I couldn’t unwatch it. I couldn’t just root for or against the Bears without thinking about Marty Booker’s perfect window of stats, which he did not accomplish. What was supposed to add to the enjoyment of football-watching had done quite the opposite. So I came up with a system. A hierarchy of rooting interests, in order to keep my head straight and possibly enjoy the game that people are playing with the sole intent of accruing more points than the other team.

My team’s victory (though, if it came down to us winning a championship or the Eagles winning the Superbowl, I’d have to reconsider – and again, independent of all other things)

  1. The Eagles (though often, with a pain in my stomach and my head in my hands)
  2. Other teams I may want to see win (sounds strangely non-self motivated, doesn’t it?)
  3. Pick Em League (because at least I’m still rooting for games to be won)
  4. Touchdown My Pants (Fantasy League #1)

That’s it. I don’t even root for the other fantasy leagues anymore. I set my lineup on Thursday and I check the standings on Tuesday, but on Sundays (and Mondays, and Thursdays now, and eventually a Saturday or two), I stay out of it. I don’t even concern myself with who is on what fantasy team. Largely because I hate the guys that say crap like “Oh, I have him on one of my fantasy teams.” If somebody says that or “I picked them in one of my brackets,” you immediately win any sports-related argument.

Thus, if the Eagles are behind, and the guy I’m playing against has Shady McCoy, I have got it straight in my head that I’m happy to see him score. Of course if the Eagles are winning, I just can’t help but wonder if that last touchdown was absolutely necessary.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: I found myself screaming at the computer screen late in the fourth quarter wondering why nobody told me that Brian Hartline was hurt. Turns out he just didn’t have any catches. In fact, he was only thrown to once. So he went from 31 fantasy points in a loss to 0 points in a win in two weeks. Damn you, fantasy football, and how much you matter to me.

AFC Division of the Week: Six games into the season and the AFC East is all deadlocked at 3-3. It’s so boring, it’s exciting.

NFC Division of the Week: Six games into the season and every team from the normally woeful NFC West are either at or above .500. And with Kevin Kolb out, the Cardinals are only going to get better.

Football-Saving Game of the Week: A lot of times, I will wander into a game unsure of what exactly I’m rooting for to happen. That was the case this past Monday. As I said in my opening, I almost quit after last week. The Eagles game I didn’t watch had my toes dangling of the cliff. Then the Chargers pulled a Chargers and Peyton pulled a Tebow and came back from down 24. My faith has been restored. Apparently whatever happens in the NFL, I will always feel good about Peyton Manning embarrassing Philip Rivers.

Other Notes From Week Six:

  • Now that the Browns have won, everybody has a win this season. Though Carolina and Kansas City only have one each, and those are against the Saints who only have one win. So in reality, I spend too much time looking up useless football-related crap.
  • Ray Lewis is injured and looks to be out for the season. However, if the Ravens get to the Superbowl, they said there’s a chance he’ll be able to play and that will give the talking heads something to talk about for the next 15 weeks.

Prediction for Week Seven: There will be more time spent talking about the Eagles on their bye week than the Jaguars/Raiders game.

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Dustin Fisher is an amateur standup comedian, storyteller, freelance writer, and stay-at-home dad, all of which are just better ways of saying “unemployed.” He worked in the area of collegiate recreation for the previous 14 years at UMBC, Miami University and the University of Baltimore. There, he became somewhat of a folk legend on the flag football field and actually got paid to play fantasy football. Dustin is currently in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore seeking a Masters degree in Creative Writing. He has made contributions to various publications including The Good Men Project and the Baltimore Fishbowl. For more about Dustin, check out his stay-at-home dad website, Daddy Needs a Nap. Dustin lives with his wife and daughter in New Carrollton, MD in a house surrounded by too many trees to get the Dish Network.

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