I got sucked into fantasy football back in the early 90s. Hard to fathom that this was over thirty years ago. My start in the hobby coincided with the explosion of the Internet. Actually, my exposure to the fantasy football world happened just before the explosion, but due to pure luck I found the Internet BEFORE the graphic browser interface became a thing. No Netscape. No Explorer. No Opera. No pictures. My introduction to the Internet was using a 9600 baud dial-up internet connection using a simple text program. The Internet at this time was all text based. No pictures. It looked sort of like this...
USENET was how people interacted. USENET was an Internet Bulletin Board service that was free and online. Coincidence led me find the group titled "rec.sport.football.fantasy". It was called RSFF for short. There were tons of different groups for the numbers of people finding this new growing online community.
I was lucky to get to know several members of the early Internet community that were also into fantasy football. Several of these tech-geeks started early webpages devoted just to fantasy football. Getting my foot in the door and being a numbers kind of dude led to me spending years as a staff writer for a company called Footballguys.com. I tossed myself fully into this new hobby. I wrote a lot of articles and did statistical investigations of random stuff. I'm pretty sure my analysis of standard deviation in football statistics was the one that grabbed Joe Bryant's eye and got him to offer me a job in this new business he was putting together with David Dodds. Bizarre to think of it now, but I was investigating football statistics for fun, like, on my own time. Nobody was paying me to do it. I was curious. Also, it gave me an outlet to be creative. I enjoy throwing my random thoughts on the page. The blog here has given me that outlet again. I've had three major writing endeavors. The first was fantasy football. The second was journaling after my separation and divorce. The most recent has been this blog.
I digress and ramble. Fantasy football team names? Another opportunity to be creative. Just yesterday Beer5 asked me about "Amish Rake Fight". I can't take credit for it. It's been one of my favorite names and I've used it several times. Having a childhood in rural Pennsylvania exposed me to Amish people strolling along the roads in their horse-drawn buggies. The vision we have of them are of a peaceful people that spurn technology. That said, they have to get pissed off at each other now and then. How to resolve their conflicts? A rake fight of course. The contrasting thought makes me laugh.
In 1993 and 1994 Nike put together an ad campaign starring Dennis Hopper as Stanley the referee. I loved this series of commercials. They inspired a run of team names that I used for about ten years. Each year a new team name. I made a production of introducing everyone to my new team name and the video that inspired this year's offerring at our live fantasy draft. I was excited, and likely the only one in the room each year that cared in the slightest. I'm fairly confident each year there were comments like, "Do we have to watch?" and "Can we start this thing already?".
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Stanley the ref and my run of team names. At least five of these were championship winners. So long ago now that I have no idea which, but I can say confidently that Bad Things Man was the most dominate. If you totally skip all the videos here, be sure to catch the final note at the end about Dennis Hopper. The actual team names are the blue hyperlinks.
(Michael Irvin & Troy Aikman)
A special note about Dennis Hopper. He had issues, like, serious issues. The fact that he lived as long as he did with all his drug an alcohol problems was a miracle. When asked which character he played in a movie that he thought was most like himself he didn't hesitate to say "Frank from Blue Velvet". Two videos. The first is a compilation of Frank saying the F word in the movie. He says it a lot in the movie. The second is Frank being himself. It's a bit...disturbing. These videos are not to watched around children in a classroom.
This is the guy that Dennis Hopper feels best represents himself. Okay then. Issues. So why would I be drawn to Dennis Hopper? I love NFL football. I can watch any two teams play awful football and still have a childlike wonder for what these guys do and appreciate their lifelong commitment and passion for their craft. I think Stanley the ref embodies how I feel better than anything else. I'm 54 years old, and other than my girlfriend there's not many things I can think of that make me feel the same level of awe. I could spend a whole day watching NFL Films productions with John Facenda sharing that same love for the game. I'm a stoic sort of guy, but have to admit the NFL brings the feelings out like few other things in life.