Earth, Wind & Fire, All ‘n All. Columbia, 1977.
At the 1979 Grammys, in a glorious and fair moment in musical history, Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” was crowned Best R&B Song. It’s easy to support this decision based on appreciation of rhythmic structure and our communal love of Giorgio Moroder, but it must’ve been a difficult decision to make when you consider the category also included Earth Wind & Fire’s “Fantasy.” You had Maurice and Verdine White v. Jabara and Moroder; can you imagine trying to pick one over the other? EWF’s tempo changes and my god those HORNS vs. Donna’s tempo changes and, my lord, those STRINGS? In an embarrassment of dance-funk, the O’Jays, Chic, and a Taste of Honey were the other terrific-song losers that year, and I don’t envy the NARAS voters for having to choose among them. When they’re all great, there’s no wrong decision – just pick the one you’re feeling the most in that particular moment and fill in the little black circle on the ballot (or open Yahoo! Fantasy Football app on your phone and start tapping, as the case may be).
This year’s theme song for America’s Most Punted had to be powerful and pretty (just like its owner, hey-oooo). It also needed to have motivational lyrical content and Illuminati-ish album cover graphics to appeal to all the young guys on the team who listen to ASAP in the weight room. And it needed to be sung by a musical group consisting of 57 members – enough to comprise 3 or 4 football teams. “Fantasy” delivered on all accounts.
As manager and owner, I needed players who were tough and consistent and highly valued for their playmaking abilities. The problem with Pretend Football isn’t that there aren’t enough good players; it’s How do I decide who to pick because there are so many good players. Yahoo! makes drafting easy/hard by offering all the elite players up and torturing us with the freedom to choose. I get dizzy every year. So like always, I just picked the ones I was feeling in a particular moment – and all n’ all (HEH), I did a fine job. I look forward to embarrassing all other teams in my league and coasting on a victory high that will last a good half hour.
Aaron “Nile” Rodgers, GB. Behold my puppydog wet-behind-the-ears rookie pulled up from the farm team to finally be given a shot this year. There are questions about this guy’s accuracy and toughness, so we’ll see if he can keep his spot as starter, but I have a soft spot for him because he looks like Max Kellerman. I love Max Kellerman.
Michael “Chill, Dogs” Vick, PHI. According to the stupid Facebook button that Yahoo! Fantasy includes next to every player’s name, Vick (zero Super Bowl appearances, antichrist) is 2 thousand Likes ahead of Rodgers (Super Bowl champ, pretty likeable on those State Farm commercials). Vick’s bound to feel that fan support when he takes to the field and I don’t see how this could be anything but beneficial for his ability to make plays. Plus if Chip Kelly keeps that same flexible coaching style that he had at Oregon and tailors his offense to suit the starting QB, Vick’s quads and fingers and brain might just be the skilled combination package that takes Rodgers out of the starting spot on my team. Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay!
The return of Dez “Dickerson” Bryant (DAL)! Despite the insistence of our childhood ears whenever Purple Rain came on TV, we all know by now that it’s not “mountaineer,” it’s “modernaire.” Still, the fact remains I want Dez to strap on some appropriate equipment and hike his way up Touchdown Mountain so that I can win this year. I mean, he can do his mountaineering in a modern way, but the focus should be on getting my points up.
Demaryius “Timmy” Thomas, DEN: “Oh fuck,” I said 3 search-results in for this dude when I saw the words “accused,” “drugging,” “raping,” and “woman” next to his name. Can’t I fake-draft an amazing athlete for my fake team, I said to the walls of apt. 680, without having some hideous real-world BS getting involved? It’s called FANTASY for a reason, universe! No raping or dog fighting allowed here, yay! There are no suicides! No spousal assaults! During lunch, the team sits and eats all together in the break room! Is this too much to ask for? Everybody wants to live together so goddammit WHY can’t we live together? Thank god, after further reading, it turns out Demaryius didn’t take part in an assault, and the charges got dropped. However, the charge of “hanging out with raping assholes” will remain on his record for the next 5-7 years. It’s not like he was ever in danger of losing his job – LOL, the NFL doesn’t care if you beat up ladies, dummy – but as an owner I can still hope that his brush with the law scared him into being a boring Boy Scout off the field and focusing on making big catches on the field. PS, Demaryius is supposed to be Manning’s primary target so I don’t need any bigshots rolling into town to try to get all the touches. Wes Welker, stay in your lane.
Mike “Christopher” Wallace, MIA: Biggie never mentioned wanting to be a football star because he had other skills to put him in a higher tax bracket. Plus he probably got easily winded. I can’t imagine he’d be any good at sports. His fantasy – his dream, even – was to become a famous musician everyone loved. And since Mike was 8 when “Juicy” came out and must’ve grown up hearing it in the car during Old School Lunch Hour, Biggie’s message of making it to the top and staying there has no doubt invaded his soul. Music really is powerful, you see, but distribution deals and MTV Spring Break appearances don’t win games. Get out of the back of that limo and strap on your equipment, Mike. Let EWF’s message of peace of mind and voices ringing together (as onnnnnnnnne) motivate you to propel yourself downfield in a quick manner – perhaps toward an end zone of some sort, who knows. “Every thought is a dream,” sings Phil, “rushing by in a stream, past the 80 yard line, the 70, the 60, the 50, the 40, he. could. go. all. the. way., like Mike Wallace’s legs after he catches a sweet, sweet pass.”
Malcolm “King” Floyd, SD: Groove me, baby! When my mom was working at a restaurant to put herself through college, she had the great misfortune of serving Alex Spanos coffee (he was a total dick to her; I’ll tell you the story sometime). I also grew up as a Raider fan, and I don’t agree with the concept of forcing sea animals to jump over obstacles for human amusement. All of this means that I hate San Diego no matter what. Still, I’d let Bob Filner stick his tongue in my ear if Floyd helps me win my league this year, because I want to win no matter what.
Kenbrell “and the Dells” Thompkins, NE. No, Mr. Thompkins does not have some sort of skin disorder that turns him gray and makes all his face parts disappear. What you see is the actual official photo for him provided by the league to a multibillion-dollar Fantasy Football website. (The NFL is too busy fighting lawsuits and explaining the rules of football to
special-needs kindergarteners women to bother taking a simple fucking picture of one of their esteemed employees). I don’t require a face as long as you can play, but the thing is that nobody’s really sure at this point if Thompkins can play. When I consider that this guy was 1) undrafted and is 2) a rookie, he might be a bust, yes – but when I consider that he is 3) fast and physical and therefore a 4) likely frequent target for Brady, he could just as easily be my sleeper pick of the year. Should that happen, I will announce SURPRISE, MOTHERFUCKERS and my victories will be sugary sweet. If he does well, that’s great, I win, drinks on me. If he doesn’t, well damn, I’m happy for him anyway since at least he’ll never feel the shame of being on the same team with the big goofball Caucasoid Jesus freak everybody swears is better than he seems and would we all give him a chance, please. Tebow is the NFL’s Mac Miller.
Lamar “Percy” Miller, MIA. People named Lamar tend to be overrated and have weird voices that I cannot stand. This particular person named Lamar will be splitting points with teammate Mike Wallace, so I’ll probably be mad at myself in a few weeks when that exact thing starts happening – but for now let’s just focus on the feel-good aspect of this pick: he’s young, hungry, and loyal (grew up in Miami, went to the U, and now plays for the Dolphins. I love that). And on his Twitter bio, Miller chose to include Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” which I’m pretty sure is a reference to Mike Sherman’s fantastic pre-game speeches that give Lamar a big confidence boost.
Reggie “Flat Zombie” Bush, DET. AHAHAHA, Lions PR team listing Reg at 6’0″! Good one, guys! Reggie Bush is a solid 5’9½” and everyone in Los Angeles knows it deep down to our core, just like we know Vanessa Bryant is an asshole but then you would be too if you were married to a giant robot, “I Love LA” is absolutely not ironic even though Randy Newman insists otherwise, and when you go to the Grove you can use the Ross parking lot across the street for free as long as you don’t make a big deal about it and announce it to everybody. Anyway, Reggie will freeze in Michigan but he is a truly unlikeable little man so that’s OK – I live in a city of penis riders where Reggie once helped our local university win a lot of games, and still. Not even LA likes him. Thank God I don’t have to like somebody to enjoy his product (the Kanye Factor), so I’m keeping him based on my childish hope that he’ll do an on-field impression of himself as a junior at USC. (Stafford’s known for being a frequent thrower but maybe this is the year that Calvin Johnson returns to mortal status and makes the Lions to switch to more of a run offense.)
Ryan Mathews, SD. This is the Year of the Running Back, according to every Fantasy site, but only if you get one of the 5 or 6 elite ones in the league at the moment – all other RBs are garbage (no offense, Ryan!). He gets the pity vote for having been born in Riverside and raised in Tehachapi. Show me whatcha got, Ry.
Kyle “Abstract” Rudolph, MIN. If I were to ask you or my mom or the mailman what a Vikings tight end looks like, you’d describe Kyle Rudolph down to the haircut and almost-invisible blond eyebrows. He’s got a raised Dodge pickup and he loves Macklemore, minus the gay stuff. He’s from Ohio and went to Notre Dame, which he loved minus the Catholic stuff. He’s every 23-year-old I see at CVS, just a big ol goofball who loves 2 Chainz and Breaking Bad and tries not to look at my breasts when I’m in front of him in line. I read that description back to myself and it sounds like I’m criticizing. I’m not criticizing! He looks like Landry from Friday Night Lights, and big goofy white guys tend to make great tight ends, so he should feel free to just go head with his 6-pack of Natty Ice and brand new copy of GTA V, as long as he gets me some points.
Rob “Girl I’ll” Housler “You,” ARI. Um, who? Yahoo says he’s from El Paso – a city with which I associate salsa and Marty Robbins, two things that are pretty neat. Welcome to the team, Rob!
Matt Prater, DEN. Prater? I hardly know her ahahahahah now that that’s out of the way: “Manning to Thomas equals 6 points then we’re bringing in Prater for the point after” is like 75% of my offensive scheme for the 2013 season. My playbook is one sentence long.
Arizona. One of the Fantasy analysts I read called Arizona’s D “sneaky good.” And they have Darnell Dockett, which is really fun to say.
San Diego! Choosing to ignore the disgusting fact they have a player named Drake, I picked them because they have two hungry young DEs in Liuget and Reyes plus a linebacker named Terrell Manning. Terrell + Manning! How could he not be great at football?