Last week, I asked my readers — all eight of them — for their most legendary fantasy football stories. I wanted to hear the best and the worst of them, from reckless picks to dramatic, come−from−behind victories. This was your chance to shine, to tell the world of your tales.
And readers, you didn’t disappoint.
Take Rhett Umphress of Muncie, Ind., for example. The Ball State graduate student won a key game in 2008 when DeSean Jackson prematurely celebrated all over the 1−yard line, promptly fumbling and allowing Brian Westbrook, who was on Umphress’ team, to poach the touchdown.
Even better, the players in his league came up with a moniker for this phenomenon of losing in heartbreaking fashion on Monday Night Football: “Hank’d,” named for the singer of the telecast’s ubiquitous theme song. Consider this my official endorsement of that term. Congratulations, Rhett, your league has now made it to the big time — not really.
Cornell University’s Will Gunn was thoroughly “Hank’d” way back in 2007. Losing heading into Monday night, Gunn needed a combined four points from the Steelers’ Nate Washington and Jeff Reed. The end result? A 3−0 Pittsburgh win in which Reed stuck a 24−yarder and Washington had one catch for 6 yards. Bummer, bro. At least you have a sweet last name.
In order to find the best “Hank’d” story I received, we have to head to my hometown of Falls Church, Va., where Jason Wippich, longtime commissioner of a league now in its 14th season, won on the “Miracle of 2007.”
Undefeated and stuck on a cruise ship with shoddy Internet, Wippich frantically picked up the first kicker he could: Rob Bironas. When Wippich’s star player, Ronnie Brown, tore his ACL, Bironas responded with eight field goals. But on Sunday night, Wippich’s opponent scored five touchdowns to snatch the lead. With just Dallas Clark left on Monday Night Football, four minutes remaining in the game and the Colts up 15 points in garbage time, Peyton Manning suddenly found Clark for a wide−open, 35−yard TD pass to gloriously give Wippich the five−point victory.
“Hank’d” stories aside, other readers sent in stories of pure, unadulterated luck only possible in fantasy football.
Arin Karimian of McLean, Va. sent in a throwback story from 2001. Needing a QB for the championship game, Karimian picked up Trent Dilfer, who was backing up Matt Hasselbeck at the time and hadn’t played since Week 8. Dilfer, however, stepped in, threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns and failed to turnover both of his fumbles. Karimian won his first championship 130−129.
Matt Geurtsen of Fredricksburg, Va., once lost by one point after the Bengals defense recorded −2 points. Ramsey Kincannon of Wooster, Ohio, needed Randy Moss to get one point on Monday. The Patriots didn’t throw to Moss, promptly traded him three days later and forced Kincannon to metaphorically smooch his sister for the week.
But perhaps the best — and certainly the most original — fantasy football story had nothing to do with specific games, but rather a time−honored tradition born out of the desire to humiliate one another. Senior Jake Kastan and the 13 other Tufts friends in his league are involved in what he calls “the most committed, obsessive, consuming and prestigious fantasy football league on campus.” This year’s draft featured, among others, business attire, a trophy presentation and a unified singing of the National Anthem.
What sets this league apart, though, is what happens every Tuesday. The unfortunate player who lost by the most points that week has to wear, throughout the day, a bright pink, oversized t−shirt that proclaims, “I AM THE TOYOTA BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK.”
“By telling our league tradition, perhaps it will help confused Tufts students understand when they see an upperclassman shamefully walking around campus in a huge pink t−shirt on Tuesdays this fall,” Kastan wrote.
Given that I just dropped to 0−7 in my big−money league, perhaps I need my own embarrassing T−shirt to inform everyone just how pathetic I actually am at this game.
Alex Prewitt is a junior majoring in English and religion. He can be reached on his blog at http://livefrommudville.blogspot.com or followed on Twitter at @Alex_Prewitt.