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Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good

My first trade in fantasy football involved running backs Terrell Davis and Edgerin James.

In the spring of 1999, my cousin Marvin invited me to join a league with eight of his friends. The league consisted of a bunch of 40-year-old men and me, a 14-year-old teenager.

I’m sure they looked at me as an easy mark.

But I lucked in to the first pick of the draft that year. Terrell Davis was coming off of a 2,000-yard season for the Denver Broncos, so it was a no-brainer to draft him. And I did. But before the regular season started, one of Marvin’s friends offered me a trade.

The specifics elude my memory, but it essentially worked out to him trading me Edgerin James — a rookie with the Indianapolis Colts — for Davis.

In hindsight, I can see what a terrible offer this was. I was trading an NFL MVP for an unproven rookie running back. But having lived in Indiana for four years prior to moving to St. Louis, I wanted to stay loyal to my previous state.

I made the trade.

I was soon the laughingstock of the league. These grown men didn’t take the ribbing easy on me just because I was 25 years younger than them. And the league chat board filled up with jokes at my expense. But I got the last laugh.

Sadly, it came at a great player’s expense. This is the weird thing about fantasy football: You have to root against real life players in order for your “pretend” team to win. It seems odd.

Davis tore his ACL in the fourth game of the season and was out for the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, James racked up a combined 2,139 yards between rushing and receiving with 17 touchdowns. I also had Peyton Manning as my quarterback, and these two players enabled me to win the league championship.

I treasure this memory. But I learned an important lesson in fantasy football, as well as in life: Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Fantasy leagues took the place of baseball and football cards for my generation. Instead of trading cards with my friends, I was able to trade real life players through the Internet. And since 1999, I’d never taken a season off from fantasy football, until now.

This will be the first year I don’t field a team.

I don’t have the time to keep up with it anymore.

I’m still a huge football fan, but I don’t want to waste three hours each week reading reports for something that has zero impact on real life.

I took a quick informal poll around my office, and found this is a common theme among many of my co-workers. And I’m left to wonder if the insane popularity of fantasy football will start leveling off in the coming years for similar reasons.

Kitsana Dounglomchan, a 12-year Air Force veteran, writes about his life and times for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]