Happy Holidays, Fantasy Football Draft Season Is Here

Holiday season is here.

Most people refer to the time between Halloween and the new year as “holiday season.” Not me. For me, the holiday season comes annually in late August — the season of fantasy football drafts.

This past weekend we held the eighth annual Fantasy League of Extraordinary Gentlemen … and Lady draft. That league has a very special place in my heart, as it is a league I founded with my best friends when we started college. And it has kept us close ever since, despite the physical distance between us. We have spread out all over the country — Los Angeles, Denver, Minneapolis, Vermillion, S.D., Yuma, Ariz., Bozeman, Mont. and Luverne — but the league keeps us close.

This year, we managed to get seven of the 12 players to Fargo for the draft, despite putting a lot of miles on our cars.

Brandon, who is an actor in Los Angeles — famous for his role as “purple shirt” in the latest season of “The Mindy Project” — flew up for the draft.

Nick and Maddie drove from Minneapolis to Bismarck, N.D. — a six-hour drive — for a wedding on Saturday, and then drove three hours back to Fargo on Sunday morning.

Andy drove five hours to Stanley, N.D. for a wedding on Saturday and then back on Sunday. And then drove back out to western N.D. to Watford City for work immediately following the draft.

And I made the four-hour trek from Luverne up to Fargo, after spending seven hours in the car on Saturday going back and forth from Rushford, Minn. for a family reunion.

It was a long weekend for all of us, but you do what you have to do to see your family at the holidays.

Fantasy football is a lifelong obsession for me — I have been playing for close to two decades now. I started by co-owning a team with my dad when I was in elementary school in the late ‘90s.He and I — known collectively as the Kilowatts — won the league in our first year in the West Fargo Family Fantasy Football League behind the stellar performance of the late, great Steve “Air” McNair and I was hooked.

Players I never cared about before became my new favorites. I have fond memories of players most current football fans have never heard of, or have lost from memory. Players like Ricky Watters, Errict Rhett, Charlie Garner and Eric Moulds became my favorites due to their contributions to my team. I even have a Kurt Warner jersey in my closet because I had him on my team when he threw for 4,830 yards and 36 touchdowns for the St. Louis Rams in 2001.

I still play in the WFFFFL, though we changed the name to “Fantasy Football 102” when some of the kids in the league grew up and went to college. It has become a way to stay connected to some very old friends. There are people in the league whom I have known for most of my life and and only see once a year at the draft — but still consider great friends.

About a year and a half ago, the league lost one of its founders, Clayton — owner of the always powerful squad, The Norskies — to colon cancer, and his absence has been felt in the league ever since. It really isn’t quite the same without him, but every year around draft time, we take time to remember the Norskie. He was a good friend and a good league-mate, and I will never forget him.