Posted: Friday September 1, 2006 12:30PM; Updated: Friday September 1, 2006 3:12PM
Jerry Jones (right) sometimes thinks he's a coach. NFL fans sometimes think they are GMs.
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images
Forget about wanting to be like Mike. These days it seems everybody wants to be like Jerry. Jerry Jones, that is. As summer quickly winds down and gridiron play creeps once again into our stream of consciousness, the transformation from the average man into the Jerry Clone is starting to take over with a vengeance.
You don't believe me? Just take a look around you. Isn't that your buddy Bob from across the street who's starting to arch his back and walk with the air of a pompous and greedy NFL owner? Haven't you witnessed his abrupt infatuation with NFL training camps and preseason football and offseason player-progress reports?
I know you've heard your boy Bob and his friends preach on and on about their "In Your Face" team or the "Crash Test Dummy" team and how they're going all the way this year in the "Red Shoe Diaries" league. Why, wasn't that Bob and the other merry chaps at the corner bar who were talking feverishly about dynasty leagues and big-money players and asking the question of the year, "Who you taking in this year's draft?" all with a little Texas twang just in their throats, just like Jerry?
All of those commercials and Web sites and magazines and mock draft boards offering guidance and advice on how to pick the perfect fantasy team -- I can't go anywhere without someone asking me, "Who should I take first, a running back or a QB?" In case you've been under a rock for the past few weeks and haven't seen any of this madness, then you'd better get ready, because it's coming your way real soon.
According to figures from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there are currently between 15 million and 18 million fantasy sports players in the U.S. The average player is male, married, in a high-income bracket and more likely to do research for their teams online during business hours while at work. The number of players has grown seven to 10 percent a year for the past three years.
Great, first there was Viagra giving men a false sense of hope that they were something that they're not. Now there's fantasy football.
I've had friends fly 2,500 miles across the country on the red-eye just to attend a fantasy draft. I just want to scream at the top of my lungs, "Stop it, you fools! It's not real. It's a fantasy, for goodness' sake."
To make matters worse, you even have NFL players trying to become Jerrys, forming leagues based on their own performances and those of their turf counterparts -- as if being an actual player isn't exhilarating enough. Redskins tight end Chris Cooley had four fantasy teams last year. Believe it or not, his performance on the field cost one of his teams a shot at making the fantasy postseason.
"I made the playoffs with one team and honestly lost because I beat myself against Dallas," he said. "The guy on the other team had me and I scored three touchdowns against Dallas and lost to myself on fantasy points."
Still, with all of the ridiculous publicity and excitement surrounding fantasy football, I will admit I was just a tiny bit curious to see what all the hype was about. So I went to a fantasy draft last weekend to see if I was the one missing out on all of the action.
I observed 16 guys chomping at the bit over deciding which players would comprise their perfect football dream team. Everyone, including the newbies and the experts, came prepared for battle with their sports magazines, football registries, stats sheets, player-profile printouts and other research materials in tow. But just like the real NFL draft, this fantasy version was about as exciting as a flat tire. For two hours I watched these Jerrys commiserate, brainstorm, argue and fictitiously draft players with enough fervor to make any rational person question their sanity. The whole time I kept asking myself, who in their right mind gets so worked up over something that is a mere illusion?
I guess fans will do anything to be a part of the game, and creating fake teams and fake organizations is no exception. Still, this fantasy fever seems so pointless. There is, and always will be, only one Jerry Jones. One NFL. Everyone else with their faux leagues and faux squads is just a poseur.