There is a difference between fantasy and life. Fantasy football is fantasy, and football is life.
This is why I am a little scared to enter my first foray in about five years into Fantasy Football. I have played before, but this year I think I am going to get sucked into it more than usual. My friend D. Blakes invited me to join a fantasy football league, and at press time the kinks are still being worked out. (Three teams in the league have a bye week every week, which means they don't play, which means they can't win. But we'll get it all worked out, don't worry Willie.)
I have always like fantasy football, because it gives me a reason to follow games I would not normally watch. For example, if for some reason I end up watching the Atlanta/Carolina game this Sunday (the opening day of the football season, i.e. my own personal Christmas), I normally would not have a vested interest. But with fantasy football, I have Alge Crumpler on Atlanta, and both Steve Smith and DeShaun Foster from Carolina, so I have a lot riding on it. Points-wise.
I have always kept fantasy football at arm's length, and that is where I'm a little scared. I have what doctor's call an "obsessive personality" which means that when I find interest in something, I tend to become completely attached to it for several weeks, often overloading. (See previous examples with blogging, Star Wars, Arrested Development, Iron & Wine, craft beer, etc.) I am the poster child for why people say there are "gateway drugs." Luckily, NyQuil is still as hardcore as I get, and that's only if I'm on vacation. Regardless, this lack of perspective and control is not something I want fantasy football to elicit from me.
And it's not that I don't want to get into it; I really do. But my problem is that I don't want to lose the forest for the proverbial trees. I am a football fan, first and foremost. I have been watching football for about twenty years, mostly following my star-crossed Bills through every wretched miserable season. But I always want to be a fan of football, not of "my players." I do not want to switch allegiances every year. Perennially, there will always be teams I will hate (Dallas, Miami, New York Giants) and teams that I kind of like (Philly, Seattle, Kansas City). And with each year, those teams, and the players on those teams, will have a firm place in my own personal universe of football.
But that's where fantasy football clouds the senses. For example, what if the Bills are playing the Dolphins, but I have the Dolphins defense on my fantasy team (this is strictly hypothetical as I would never pick the Miami Defense or any player from Miami ever). When game time comes, what do I want? Do I want my Bills to roll up yards and light up the scoreboard? Or do I take some sort of solace in the event of a defeat that at least the Bills lost, but hey, I got 6 fantasy points out of it!
Bullshit! Never! There will never be any joy in losing (especially to the goddamn Dolphins). And certainly no measly amount of points in a fantasy game should take away the sting of a loss. If I ever catch myself saying, "Well, the Bills lost, but at least the four interceptions that Losman threw are good for my fantasy D," I will repeatedly open a window and then slam it down on my own head. That's a Bill Shannon promise.
Quick story: A few years ago, I was at work, and there was this guy who worked in my department (he was canned shortly thereafter). And this guy was fat, I'm talking Orca fat. So anyway, I am walking around and I notice that this guy has a Buffalo Bills helmet on his computer. So I figure, hey this guy's alright. So I asked him, "Hey, you like Buffalo, huh?" to which he replied in the affirmative. So I said to him, "Big game this weekend huh?" I still remember, they were playing the Raiders. And this fat house of a man said, "Yeah, but I need them to lose because I have [Raiders quarterback] Rich Gannon on my fantasy team." It took all my inner strength to keep from taking his head and repeatedly slamming a window down on top of it.
Bottom line: if I ever turn against the Bills -- no matter how unrequited my love for them may be -- because of a fantasy player, please get me some help.