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Article 15

by Steve Stegeman (May 18, 2001)
Guest Writer,


This article is also up at FF Today.  Click here to go there and view it.


     The very topical nature of this work lends to, even necessitates, a first-person narrative presentation.  Moreover, the employment of the first-person in this case serves as an absolutely essential part to the point being made.  Though this style is looked upon as juvenile, and usually rightfully so, I just hope that the crux does not get lost in all of the “I’s, me’s and my’s” and remains intact, shining through to you, the reader.


     Having gained not a few grey hairs enduring some of the most dramatic and significant sagas this off-season has had to offer, not the least of which has been the recent medical condition of WR Jimmy Smith, allowed me to also “regain” a revitalized appreciation for some of my favorite players, players with whom I would go to war any day.  Besides Smith, I also have on my roster RB’s Robert Smith, Priest Holmes, whom I traded for in February, and Charlie Garner; I even had QB Doug Flutie when the whole “indecision in Buffalo” thing was still playing out.  Trust me, I lost more than my share of good nights’ sleep this off-season after waking up in a cold sweat.


     The situations of Jimmy and Robert Smith are particularly poignant.  One might think that I am going to juxtapose the two; ridicule Robert for lacking heart and being a quitter and praise Jimmy for having the heart of a lion and being a fighter, but that “simply” will not be the case.  That argument is for another writer who sees it that way.  I do not!  So, am I going to argue kudos to Robert for getting out of the game and the punishment it dishes out while body still in tact and point out that Jimmy should take a hint?  Not even close!  Again, that is someone else’s argument to make.  The truth is their out-of-the-ordinary off-season circumstances made me think about and realize how much I appreciate the truly standup players as well as all of the “different characters with different characters” in the league and how I really value having my favorites… moreover, on my team.


     Robert Smith is one of those players that I have seemingly always had on my team and is one of my all-time favorites.  His retirement did put a chink in the armor, and I will miss him very much.  But, his retiring in part dealt with that which I like about him.  He is a well-spoken, self-confident guy who sees life and has aspirations beyond football.  He is a great ambassador for the game and role model for young people.  He had to overcome adversity early on in his career due to injuries, but showed that he was one of the best in the end, an end that has been somewhat tainted by the way many perceive he left the game.  Many believe that he is cowardly tucking his tail betwixt his legs and walking away from the game because of his frustration over, i.e. because he is being a crybaby about, the playoff game against the Giants.  He was disappointed, but one game is not going to do in a complex and capable man like Robert Smith, and that is discounting the money he forfeits by not playing this year.  The Giants game may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but his retiring is much more about the visions he has for his life outside of football in academia and medicine.  I actually had an opportunity to trade him in my fantasy league back in January and did not.  Do I regret it?  No way!  I brought him into our league in the fourth round of the 1995 draft, and I am proud that he spent almost all of his years in our league on my team.


     As for Jimmy Smith, statistically the best receiver over the past five seasons, my argument for his being one of my favorites does not need to be and is a little less passionate and lengthy as it is empirically evident.  I like and admire him for the same reasons most everybody else does (or should).  Regarding his most recent bout with health, he already has gained back some of the weight he lost and is working out… in the hospital.  He may not be the most prudent fellow when it comes to his health, but he is defined by his “guts,” literally and figuratively I suppose, and by his perseverance and overall top-notch character.


     After considering these two greats, I am left to ponder the rest of the roster of my only team (I consider it foolish to partake in more than one league, which is a whole nother issue meriting an article of its own.).  As a huge Broncos fan, I had QB John Elway, another one of my all-time favorites, on my keeper-league team every year right up until his retirement, and finally in January I successfully traded for QB Brian Griese, and, notwithstanding being a Broncos fan, suffice it to say that like almost everybody else, he won me over last year with that incredible performance on Monday night against the Raiders.  The guy is a stud, period.


This off-season I was also able to acquire a couple more of my favorites QB Brad Johnson, the NFL’s all-around good guy, who actually has unfortunately never graced my roster before, and RB Curtis Martin, who as a rookie I selected in the third round of that ’95 draft.


RB Emmitt Smith has been on my team all but one season.  This guy has no quit in him, and is another one of those standup guys who is on my all-time-favorites list.


My last favorite is somewhat odd and very particular to me.  That is QB Jeff George.  He is another one of those players I almost always have on my team.  Granted, I do not know the guy up close and personal, but whenever I see him in an interview, I like him, at least relative to how others seem to feel about him.  Perhaps my recollection of the Philly-Atlanta game in ’96 where George, in my opinion, justifiably went off on June Jones his head coach, something which the likes of QB Steve Young would be, and in fact was, lauded for doing, is skewing my opinion, but I just cannot help but think that this is a guy whose idiosyncrasies have been blown out of proportion and who, consequently, gets the short end of the stick more often than he deserves as once you are labeled by the hype-driven media you are labeled for good… and for better or worse.  All of that having been said, whatever, he is a colorful character, and, bottom line, I like him.


     Just winning in and of itself is cool, but the wars I have won with these guys, MY guys, including my two GBRFL championships, are just that much sweeter.  I would rather go down fighting with my guys than win with a bunch of guys that do not have any special meaning to me, the moral of the story being do not just play fantasy football like you are trading stocks.  Do not forget or dismiss the human side; play with emotion and passion; have your own personal favorites, even though most would advise against it, and try to get them on your team, and then you will “realize” the exponential increase in your enjoyment of this magnificent hobby!




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