Saturday, November 22, 2014


Just a personal note here... I absolutely, positively will not allow any fantasy expert coerce me, convince me or persuade me into not starting Josh Gordon this week.

"He won't see a lot of action," they say.

"He will be eased into the line-up," they say.

"He's not in football shape," they say.

As Theodore Roosevelt famously once said, "BULLY!"

 I know TR would start Josh Gordon.

I haven't stashed Gordon on my bench to sit around and wait to see what happens.  My intestinal premonition is he will explode against Atlanta.

I'm fighting to get into the playoffs and I will go down with the ship.

Besides, Gordon himself said (between tokes), *inhale*... "I'm going to tear this league up, man."

He's got a lot to prove to himself and the Browns, and he's got the talent.  I believe him.


On another note, since launching The Lone Pylon in earnest back in May 2014, I've recently bypassed 10,000 hits.

Thank you all for visiting and reading my chronic nonsense!  I am inspired to keep on keeping on...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Ballad of a Sad Fantasy Football GM

Before this fantasy season started, I started to buy into the whole "Stud Running Back Theory Is Dead" movement.

It is a passing league now, the experts said.  You no longer need a stud running back to win in fantasy football, they said.  What you need are great receivers and a terrific tight end.

I will stay calm here and simply say this is not true.

It's complete crap.

Okay, it's bullsh*t.
It's been this kind of fantasy football season for me.
You see, friends, I'm in a predicament as we head into the last two weeks of the fantasy football regular season.  And it's all because I have crap for running backs in ALL of my leagues.  Bad luck and ill-fated decisions have left my exposed genitals flapping in the breeze here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

And trust me, it's cold out there.

I have a winning record (6-5) in just one of my three leagues, which is due to dumb luck more than anything else...

I am in dead last place in the other two leagues.  It has not been a pretty scene.

I've already grumbled on this site how I completely (albeit unintentionally) sabotaged my season in one league.  Back before grand jury deliberation in the state of Texas was a newsworthy item and before elevator surveillance video was released to the public (or to Roger Goodell, evidently), I drafted Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice (with confidence, I might add).

I figured I'd have a respectable 1-2 punch at running back by week 3, once Ray Rice served his two week suspension.  Boy, that seems like a long, long time ago.

But it was okay; you didn't need stud running backs anymore, right?  Whatever.

I've feverishly worked the waiver wire and free agency in that league and now have Darren Sproles and Shane Vereen as my starters.  But my diligence has not paid off.  My record in that league is an embarrassingly horrific 1-10.  That's the worst start I've ever had in any fantasy football league at any time.

I am eliminated from the playoffs in this league.


In the other league - what I like to call my "big money" league - I had what I thought was a potent 1-2 combination of Eddie Lacy and Giovani Bernard at the start of the season.  Looked nice on paper in early September.

My fatal error came when I traded Lacy after week 6.  He did next to nothing most of the season and my team was sinking under his considerable excess weight, the fat bastard.  I really needed a wide receiver and I got T.Y. Hilton as part a package deal, which was attractive to me since I also have Andrew Luck in that league.
Eddie Lacy gets ready for another Sunday full of NFL action.  And cheeseburgers.  And nachos.  
After all, you don't need stud running backs anymore and I managed to get the top-ranked wide receiver in the NFL at that point in the season.

It's a passing league, right??

Well, soon after trading Lacy, my two worst fears came to fruition:  Giovani Bernard got hurt and Lacy started playing well.

I have an especially bitter taste about this because my born-and-bred-Vikings-fan sensibility told me to stay away from the hated Green Bay Packers in every way possible.  After all, this makes the second consecutive season a Packers player has screwed me over...

Last season, I drafted Aaron Rodgers and ended up losing several critical fantasy games down the stretch after Rodgers broke his stupid collarbone in week 9.  I swear to the fantasy gods, the Packers will find a way to taunt me no matter what.  It's a conspiracy at the highest level.

Long story short, I gambled trading that creep Eddie Lacy and I pulled a Plaxico Burress, shooting myself in the lower extremity.  With Bernard banged up, I've been left to choose between Denard Robinson, Darren McFadden, Bishop Sankey for starters.  Not among my finest fantasy football moments, trust me.

As a result, I am tied for last place in the division (3-8), and I have the least points in the league.  I haven't won since mid-October.

So everything is riding on weeks 12 and 13.  I am mathematically eliminated from winning the division, but I can still get into the playoffs.  And right now, getting into the playoffs is all that matters.

The good news is it sounds like Giovani Bernard is expected back this week.

The better news is I have timed the unleashing of my secret weapon perfectly.  I claimed used car salesman Josh Gordon off waivers weeks ago and kept him tucked away on my inactive list.

The time has come for an all-out attack.

If I'm going down, I'm going down toking drinking swinging.

Let the games begin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rand University

I've become a big fan of ESPN's "30 For 30" documentary series.

The recent airing of The Boz, an in-depth study of 1980's Oklahoma superstar linebacker Brian Bosworth was fascinating.  

It particularly piqued my interest because I went through my adolescence in the 1980's, played high school football in the '80's, and I vividly remember "The Boz" sensation.  We all tried to get those "Boz" haircuts -- at least to the extent our parents would allow.

Yet it's amazing how you really know nothing about the real story until you hear the real story.

Last night's debut of Rand University (wonderfully directed by Marquis Daisy) was no different.  It was less a documentary and more of a detailed character study of Randy Moss.  

Naturally, I was curious to watch this since I am born and bred a Minnesota Vikings fan.  

Randy Moss breathed new life into the Vikings franchise in the late 1990's; he had hands like Jerry Rice, speed like Willie Gault and swagger like Michael Irvin.  No one had ever seen a wide receiver like him before.  

I also knew he was a troubled young man.  

But I didn't know how troubled.  

As it turns out, "Rand University" was a hangout at the 7-11 store in Rand, West Virginia (the only business in town) where all the young dudes (to borrow a line from a song) would gather, drink beer, waste their days and smoke whatever was around.   

For most of the young men in Rand, this was their "college."

That easily could have been Randy Moss, too.  While still a teenager, Moss served jail time for battery, was expelled from high school, tested positive for marijuana, violated probation, and was charged with domestic assault.

He blew chances to go to Florida State and Notre Dame for off the field problems, before finally getting a third chance at Marshall University.

I dare say in today's society, there is no way Moss would have ever gotten the opportunity to play in the NFL.

A classic Moss grab.  He simply could not be defended.

It doesn't seem that long ago, but in 1998, it was a different world.  The Vikings took a chance and drafted Moss 21st overall.  And the rest is history.

That's not to say Moss didn't fall victim to a few bone-headed decisions as a pro.  He was certainly a controversial figure, notoriously known to pout and take plays off.  

He would occasionally say things ("I play when I want to play") and do things (such as squirt a sideline judge with a water bottle), so stupid, all you could do was shake your head.

But he when he was "on," I dare say he was the best to ever play.

Randy Moss has, without a doubt, put up Hall of Fame numbers:  10th-most receptions, 3rd-most receiving yards, and 2nd-most receiving touchdowns in NFL history.  His accomplishments in the NFL read like a laundry list.  There's little doubt he will be wearing a yellow jacket in Canton someday.  

Moss played for five teams in his career, including an ugly, forgettable stint with the Oakland Raiders and a cup of coffee with the Tennessee Titans.  

I suppose the highlight of his career was that memorable undefeated season with the 2007 New England Patriots (and inexplicably losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl).

That year, he set the NFL record for most receiving touchdowns in a season (23).  A record which still stands.

But in my mind, Randy Moss will always be a Minnesota Viking.

One of my greatest memories of Moss was of his rookie season, torching the Dallas Cowboys secondary over and over on Thanksgiving Day, 1998.

As I sat in front of my television that snowy afternoon, I watched Moss haul in 163 yards receiving and three touchdowns.  

He became the youngest player in NFL history (21 years-old) to catch three touchdown receptions in a game, on his way to setting the rookie record for most touchdown receptions in a season (17).

I remember asking myself over and over, "Where did this guy come from?"

The answer, as I would eventually learn, was somewhere deep in West Virginia; a place known only as "Rand University." 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Trek To TCF Stadium

Okay, I'll be honest with you all.  It's been a fairly miserable year in fantasy football for me.

Many of the players I took in my drafts have either not played the way I anticipated, haven't played at all, or have gotten hurt.  And of course there have been times when I just haven't started the right players.  At this point in the season, free agency looks like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard.

My year in a nutshell:  In one league, I drafted Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice (yes, before learning neither would be playing).  This in itself was a recipe for catastrophe.  But it gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective).  I recently I dropped Peterson because I desperately needed space on my roster.  Peterson was just dead weight.

Three days after releasing him, it was announced he would submit a plea agreement and possibly play yet this year.

I tried to reclaim him on waivers but I was too late.  Yeah, it's been that kind of year.

I have to admit I think I'm in too many leagues.  It's very difficult to keep track of who I have in each league (and I usually have no clue who I am playing against in each league) and that takes a lot of the fun out of it.  This is something I need to reconsider at the end of the season.  In fantasy football, it really is possible to get too much of a good thing.

Anyway, on to better news....

This past Sunday was spent away from football on television and taking in the real thing at TCF Stadium on the campus of my old alma mater, the University of Minnesota.  Me and the boys went to stadium #2 in our quest to eventually see all (or at least most) of the stadiums in the NFL.

We decided to stay closer to home this year and see the Vikings' temporary crib.

We journeyed to the Honorable Commish's house on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed homemade jambalaya over a roaring fire outside in below freezing temperatures.  Adult beverages were consumed and most all of the world's problems were solved.  It was a good night.

The next day, we were off to the U of M.  There were rumors that protestors (protesting the visiting Redskins' offensive name) would make life miserable for football fans, and the stadium crowd was slow to arrive, but I did not see a single hippy (only lots of news helicopters hovering overheard covering the story).

I have to admit I was almost disappointed I didn't see some police-in-riot-gear Taser action on the old campus.  Oh well.

An hour before game time at TCF Stadium.  Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014

The game felt like was going to be a a blow out.  The Redskins took a 10-0 lead in the 2nd quarter, but the feeling in the stadium was that it could have been 30-0.  It was d-e-a-d.

This was our view for most of the first half... the Redskins deep in Vikings territory.

But a poor throw by RGIII led to a late second half touchdown by the Vikings, and that got everyone's attention.

The second half was as exciting as the first half was boring.

Me and the Boys in our Vikings attire.  Stadium #2.

The crowd was late arriving, but eventually the place filled up...

The second half of the game was a terrific back and forth struggle between two teams trying hard to get a win.  The Vikings' Matt Asiata finally punched it in late in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead touchdown.

This is what it looked and sounded like from where we were, much different than listening to the crickets chirp in the first half!


Now it's back to the drawing board, figuring out how to salvage this fantasy season.