Fantasy football is real. Well, at least as real as Bigfoot. Every time I’m in the Pacific Northwest, I look at all the greenery and think maybe somewhere out there is Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Yeti. You never know. And while pure football fans may discount the existence of fantasy football, just like the folklore attached to Bigfoot, fantasy football can be found lurking in the shadows of every NFL locker room.
Ask any position coach if he believes in Fantasy Football and he’ll tell you “NO!” The old line you’ve heard a million times is what you’ll hear again: the only stats that count are wins and loses. But check out any team media guide and it reeks of fantasy football. Sure, there’s some information on Super Bowl wins or playoff appearances. But right there! Hidden in plain sight! “Coached this running back to a 1,200-yard season.” “Has coached 8 different wide receivers to 75 catch seasons.” “Coach so and so has produced four different 3,500-yard quarterbacks.” “Top 5 scoring defense!” “Top 5 in sacks!”
Coaches know every missed sack or dropped interception better than they know the names of their kids. They can count on their fingers and toes every run or pass reception called back by an illegal formation or holding call. Just like the foul smell on the trail of Bigfoot, there is a stench associated with loss of stats! You want to see a sideline implode? Get a late touchdown pass called back by a “bad” or“questionable” holding call.
Which brings me to special teams coaches. They are going crazy. At the Broncos’ season-opener at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, one — count ‘em one — kickoff return! The new stat dominating special teams: touchbacks. Not very sexy.
Coaches make their money based on stats, so this is important stuff to them. Watch the last five minutes of any game and how the offense in hurry-up mode is finally moving the ball and piling up numbers (you could refer to this as Tebow Time, but I leave that up to you).
You may not believe the pictures of Bigfoot, but you’ve got to believe in fantasy football. Just like with Sasquatch, sometimes the biggest cynics and skeptics are just blowing smoke: deep down they believe. So the next time you’re cursing because a defensive player ends up one yard short of a pick-six by stepping out of bounds at the last moment, know there’s a defensive coordinator doing the same thing: he wanted those six points just as bad as you did.
Fantasy football has to be real. Why else would a kid who grows up in, say, Miami have Calvin Johnson and Aaron Rodgers as his favorite players and the Steelers defense as his “favorite team”? Somewhere in the Florida marsh must lurk Bigfoot’s cousin, Swamp Thing.
– James Lofton
Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton is real. He does exist and he is the analyst for Dial Global’s coverage of Sunday Night Football. This weekend, you can find him in lurking in San Francisco, where the 49ers will host the Detroit Lions. Coverage begins at 7:30 PM Eastern.