- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2013

I was 19 when I started playing fantasy football. I won the league that year and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Over the past 22 years, I’ve done live drafts, online drafts (although I’ve never had to resort to autodrafting), drafts over the phone, by email and through various versions of audio and video chats. I even sent a detailed, handwritten cheat sheet to a relative one year so he could draft for me because I couldn’t bring myself to quit a new job to show up for the draft.

This was back before the Internet became a thing, so you either showed up or got creative. On a related note, I lasted a month at that job before I quit. They wanted me to work Sundays. During the NFL season. I’m not an animal.

Anyway, draft day is always memorable, and this year was the third straight in which I drafted as a generally respectable father type. As such — and especially since my wife is in all the same leagues — plans must be made with my son in mind. Also, and this happens because the boy’s birthday falls smack dab in the middle of drafting season, it was the third straight year in which my visiting mother was roped into our shenanigans. The woman’s 80 and she’s still making sacrifices for her family. Love ya, Mom!

Three years ago, my mother babysat our (really)newborn while we went out for a couple of hours to draft online at a local coffee shop. Last year, she ran interference at our apartment while we drafted over Yahoo Messenger with my brother the commissioner, and this year, well, here’s the story:

★★★

The aforementioned brother, through a series of texts which I could receive but to which I could not respond because I own a cellphone that is a slightly less efficient communication device than my son’s See ‘n Say, set up the draft for this past Saturday. My lack of input was no big deal, though. I’m off on Saturdays. I’m fine with any of them. Well, not any of them. My wife — in the middle of superserious and incredibly hectic party planning — realized immediately that the other day on the table for the draft was the boy’s birthday. This information did not click with dear old Dad when he saw it on his phone. I made up for it, though, by buying the boy an electronic guitar that he absolutely ignores.

So a couple days after the draft date and time were finalized, I called my mother to find out her flight schedule. Turns out she was arriving on a Wednesday and staying until the following Saturday. My first thought was, “Great, she can go to breakfast with me and the boy every morning! She’ll love that!” (We made it to breakfast twice in 10 days.) My second thought, which I expressed incredulously and very loudly to my wife was, “Wait, her flight leaves the morning of the draft!! What the [fill in whatever word you feel comfortable with]!!!”

I proceeded to grumble and stomp around the apartment for a few minutes, during which time I may or may not have expressed to my wife a conspiracy theory related to my perceived success as a fantasy owner. It didn’t sound as good out loud as it did in my head.

I then did what any normal person would do. I called my 80-year-old mother twice to double- and triple-check the flight information she just gave me and complain about having to take her to the airport for her flight home in the middle of the draft! Not my finest moments. Fully aware of that.

I subsequently tracked down my brother to mention my terrible predicament and he claimed to have forgotten about the draft when he made the flight plans. Likely story! OK, he probably did. That conspiracy theory would look really bad if I fleshed it out here, right? Eventually, I calmed down, which is the only thing I do as much as I get worked up. And my brother was gracious enough to reschedule the draft so it started an hour earlier and I could participate in most of it.

By then, my wife had helped me return to the Land of Priorities and I had come to grips with the reality that I would not be able to control the drafting of my second kicker or sixth wide receiver. It was a sacrifice I begrudgingly but lovingly was willing to make.

★★★

To the surprise of no one but myself, things went smoothly. My mom once again was the morning’s MVP in keeping an eye on the boy while he immersed himself in “choo-choo” culture and I kept myself sufficiently caffeinated through the first 11 rounds.

On the way to the airport, my mom and my son sat together in the back seat and sang songs. About the time my wife was selecting Rian Lindell for me as the draft’s Mr. Irrelevant, Grandma was getting one last kiss from her grandson before heading to Gate C6.

Story Continues →