Do Fantasy Football Players Score More On Monday Night Games Fantasy Football in the 1980’s

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Fantasy Football in the 1980’s

I started playing fantasy football in 1987 I started 23 years ago when I was 10 years old. The landscape has changed dramatically since then.

It all started when my father got an opportunity to join the dynasty league. The two teams were not renewed and had to prepare a draft to split their players. My father, older brother Ben and I went to his office to draft on the phone with the other new owner. The rookies for that year were already drafted so I remember the big prize was Vinny Testaverde. Other QBs of note were Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham. I know I felt nervous because the stakes seemed so high. We flipped a coin on a phone that seemed to require a level of believability through the eyes of a 10-year-old. We lost the coin flip and drafted 2nd and 3rd. Testaverde went first and eventually we got both Moon and Cunningham. It worked well for us and I always had an affinity for Cunningham because of his early association with him.

After that draft, the three of us were completely hooked. So much so that we organized another league for the same season so that we could each manage our own teams. It was a league that was recreated every year. Ben, my dad and I each had our own team. I never felt the responsibility of controlling my own fantasy team. The first draft was done at our house. My dad bought us for $10 or $20. I don’t remember how much but it seemed like a lot at the time. The players were all adults except for one man who brought his two children; In which the elder had his own team and the younger shared with his father. Obviously, my dad had a lot of faith in me.

My dad bought Cliff Charpentier’s Fantasy Football Digest 1987 in preparation for the draft. It was a full 200+ page book. It had solid color for the front and no flashy pictures. This book was incredible for me. There was a lot to learn. These were arranged by location and in various scoring systems. We had a basic scoring method of play. Which gives 4 points for TDs thrown, 6 points for rushing and receiving TDs, 3 points for field goals and 1 point for extra points. That was it. No points are awarded for yards. It sounds wild now but that’s how we played and we loved it. The book was arranged in a tiered order. Starting with “Best of the Best” and going down from there. I remember it being like a textbook and no questions asked. I had a resource and studied it hard. I remember doing countless mock drafts on my own. We don’t determine draft position until draft night which makes it more difficult to prepare.

Draft night was always incredibly exciting for me. The first two years were held at our home and then moved to a different owner’s business conference room that felt very official. Draft position was determined by Ace’s trade of 9. The drama was incredible. There were pretzel sticks to eat like cigars, and it would be the first time I saw beer in my house. It was a whole new world for me. It was about as much fun as the pretin boy could handle.

There was a new excitement for him on Sunday. Watching the games was a pain, we got 1 maybe two games in an afternoon and of course we didn’t have a DVR. So you were in a ticker wave at the top of the screen and there was a very rare game break to gauge how you were doing. Halftime recaps are a whirlwind of information to track. I remember pleading with the announcers “how did they get that third TD?” It would run for both the noon and 3:00 games, and then we had to wait a few agonizing hours until NFL primetime began in 1987. I have so many memories of running through a screen of a fantasy player and listening to Chris. Berman yells “RUMBLING STUMBLING TOUCHDOWN!!!!” The high was amazing. In some ways I miss those days. With today’s instant information that expectation may never be the same as before.

Ben and my father served as commissioners. It was a ton of work. They learned to use spreadsheets on our green screen Apple IIC. Lineup calls were made on our home phones Saturday night or Sunday morning, and last-minute calls came in just before noon. I remember these calls being very distressing for my sister who could not understand their significance. The official result had to wait for the box score in the Monday morning paper. Suddenly I was so excited about the newspaper and so happy that we got the delivery in the morning. I was one of the only kids in grade school who went to the library and worked in the newspaper section. I pour over the box score to plan my drops and adds.

Results will be entered into a spreadsheet and printed after Monday night’s game. We will mail them to the rest of the league the next day. It’s a testament to how much fun fantasy football is that there’s such a brutal way to receive and distribute data now that we happily go to play it. You definitely had to be more dedicated to get a league that survived due to the sheer amount of work required.

I have nothing but fond memories of playing fantasy football in the 80’s and early 90’s. I am happy that it has become more accessible to the masses and has reached the popularity it has today. There’s a small piece of me that still doesn’t wait through the commercial break hoping to hear Chris Berman scream, “The Nigerian Nightmare Bulldozes to the End Zone”.

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