Those who know me know I love NFL football and I'm a huge Chicago Bears fan. Of course, my interest initially came about because Brian was a huge Bears fan, but I became a fan in my own right many years ago -- there were times I would tell Brian about the latest Bears news or would have the answer to some wondered-aloud random question of his, like which player would be the long snapper if Patrick Mannelly got injured. I'd routinely check the official Bears website, as well as those of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times for Bears news, analysis, and opinion pieces. I still do, though not quite as often this year.
As a football fan, I'd even been in a fantasy football league at one point, though it was just for a year and it was early on in the fantasy heyday, so this league wasn't even online. It was too much effort to do trades and set rosters without real-time internet control, so I only stayed in that league for one season. And I could never get into Brian's league -- it's a little bit like the FX show The League in that the guys take it very seriously -- there is a waiting list to get in, and there has been for years, so I never even attempted. I was perfectly content, though, to be the First Lady of the League. Brian was the commissioner ("The Commish") and I had an important role as his wife. Once we got a house, the draft was always in our dining room and I'd plan the menu, drinks, and setup. I would typically also play the role of the Vanna-White like "sticker girl" during the live draft, posting the picks as they were made on the 3' x 4' draft board. All the stickers are color-coded by position, and most of the other wives and girlfriends wouldn't know what color to look for when a player's name was called. I actually knew enough to do a little trash-talking to the guys as they made their picks. One year, I was running the sticker board, keeping our two out-of-state fantasy guys up to date with live chat by typing the picks in as they were made, and managing to do the occasional drink run all at once (hey, it helps that a couple of the guys are notorious for taking a looong time to make each pick!).
After Brian died, one of the first things I thought of was the Boka & Friends Smashmouth Fantasy Football League. I posted a message on the league message board telling the guys I hoped they'd continue, and that I wanted to play a role in whatever capacity they would desire. I was honored when they voted to not only make me commissioner, but also chose me to fill the spot vacated by Brian, and to have my own team. I don't know what Brian would have thought about having a "girl" in the league, but I'm not your typical girl when it comes to football, and besides -- I wanted to be in the league!
I am really enjoying having a fantasy team of my own this year. Previously, I always sort of teased Brian about having his laptop up on game day, checking his live-update fantasy score while watching the Bears, and also sometimes rooting for Bears opponents to do well (to help his fantasy game), but not so well the Bears didn't still win their game. I teased, but I was never one of those wives who got mad or didn't get it. Still, it's a whole new level of "getting it" now that I'm the one doing those things! It's amazing how much more I love football; every game is more interesting because I'm pulling for (or against) certain players in each game.
Last night, I was at some friends' house for dinner, and I was talking fantasy football with the guys; we all agreed it makes Sundays so much more fun. Then I realized -- I thought Sundays would be awfully lonely and hard this year, watching the Bears alone every week, not having Brian there to appreciate every solid block, amazing deflection & pick plays (did anyone else SEE what Julius Peppers did yesterday, by the way?!), etc. But they're not -- I actually look forward to Sunday each week. I LOVE Sundays.
In short, fantasy football has made what could have been a season full of crummy Sundays into a great time of year for me.
Thank you, fantasy football.