Peyton Manning lied to me. To my face. For reasons that can’t fully be explained here, I had the opportunity to attend a Q-and-A session with Peyton and Archie Manning. I came away from it with a tremendous respect for both, with some very funny stories (Archie’s favorite kid? Cooper. He’s the only one that’s given Archie grandkids), and with some inside advice that was going to help me win my fantasy league. One of the questions was from a young boy who was from the same town in Iowa as Dallas Clark. The boy, surely prompted by a parent, told Peyton about this and asked Peyton if there was anything he wanted the boy to tell Dallas. Peyton and the crowd laughed, but Peyton told the boy that he was probably going to see Dallas before the kid did and then asked him if there was anything he wanted Peyton to tell Dallas for him. The kid was dumbfounded upon realizing that he was now in a conversation with Peyton Manning!
And after a few stunned seconds, Peyton told the boy that he would tell Dallas how proud of him all of Iowa is. The boy nodded and, still in a daze, went back to his seat. Peyton then turns to the crowd and says, “I usually don’t do this, but Dallas Clark and I have been working out together all offseason. And let’s just say that I think Dallas is going to have a good season. Just keep that in mind for your fantasy teams.” So four months later I’m drafting my team, and with the first pick of the 5th round I take Dallas Clark. Probably 2 rounds too early but hey, Peyton Manning himself told me to take him, so who am I to question it?
Dallas Clark’s 2 touchdowns in week 8 were a small consolation for having a grand total of none through the first 7 weeks. But, despite the bitterness that I will now harbor towards Peyton, Dallas Clark, the Colts, Lucas Oil, and the entire state of Indiana, I am not mad at Fantasy Football. In fact, despite my 2 football teams, 2 basketball teams, 1 baseball, 1 soccer, and 1 NASCAR league, I need more fantasy sports in my life. So on today of all days, I am introducing my proposal for a new venture: Fantasy Politics.
Sure, my next team could have been fantasy hockey. But I’m not really interested in that unless Best Playoff Beard becomes a scoring criteria (The #1 pick? JS Giguere. My sleeper? Paul Kariya). But fantasy politics has all sorts of options. You wouldn’t be interested in drafting which states will go blue? Sure California would be #1, and New York should be the 2nd overall pick. They are the Lebron and Kobe. But what about some of the later picks? Is it worth it to shoot for the moon with Florida or take the safe pick in Michigan? Where do you take Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district? Sure it’s only 1 point but it’s at least more likely to go Blue than Wyoming’s 3 points are. Who do you believe in more—Missouri or Indiana? They’re both worth 11 points, they’re both swing states. Or Minnesota vs. Wisconsin? This is like choosing between Vince Carter and Paul Pierce. “Who wants it more” versus “Who’s going to phone it in to avoid getting stuck in Canada”? North Carolina has certainly played their way into an early-round pick, but my sleeper? Georgia. This is going to be their breakout year, I just feel it. I’m betting that they are this year’s Atlanta Hawks. But Vermont, DC, Delaware—they’re this year’s Tony Parker. You know what you’re going to get from them, and good teams need them. Ultimately, you need a big guy in the middle if you’re really going to go anywhere.
Granted there are years when this game wouldn’t be much fun. ’72? ’84? Those years would have sucked for this game. But there’s always House and Senate races. This could work on so many levels. Heck, picking Cali and NY too obvious for you? What about setting a spread? Is Obama gonna run up the score? Is McCain going to connect on one of his favorite Hail Marys? Would you care more about Sen. Stevens’ conviction if you had $10 riding on the Alaska Senate race? Would you avoid old SNL reruns if you needed Al Franken to win by 2? You’re telling me Vegas couldn’t come up with some fun side-bets? How many times will Fox News call a state Republican prematurely? I’m setting it right now: 20-1 says Sarah Palin punches John McCain right in the face before tonight is over. What’s the over/under on Biden gaffes? Ah who are we kidding, I’m taking the over.
This idea seems like its time has come. I need more fantasy sports in my life. I need to check my teams and decide if I’m starting No on Prop 8 or keeping the Ca-46th on the bench. I need to scan the headlines to find out if my star is currently in trouble—I’m absolutely sure that right now there is a Congressman making it rain at the Hustler club. I’m telling you, all of the ingredients are there to make a great fantasy team: Convicted felons. Underdog millionaires. Liars. It’s enough to make Peyton Manning feel right at home.