By: John F. McGlynn (Twitter: @jfmcglynn)
Although I have not been the Commissioner for all of the Fantasy leagues that I was ever involved in, I am the Commissioner of a few leagues now. And it’s not that easy. I remember the days of getting all of my sports knowledge from watching the George Michael sports machine, and listening to Chet Coppock on the radio, or trusting Jimmy the Greek for all of his information on who was going to win the games, and by how much, and who was going to score in those games. Dabbling into fantasy football in the mid 90’s, I needed more up to date information. The Thursday Chicago Sun times had an awesome new tool that I found to keep you ahead of the competition. THE INJURY REPORT! I remember the security it gave you to know your guy was playing that week.
That was all that you had to worry about in touchdown only leagues. That and making sure that you called your lineup in, and left a voice message on the commissioners answering machine by 11AM or you got a 0. The birth of call waiting and leaving a message on the phones call waiting line voice mail were upgrades the whole leave had to chip in for. A Commissioner was really just a stat keeper.
As time went on, these TD only leagues became boring, and rumblings of bonuses were filling the air. A lot of franchise owners did not like change. They thought that bonuses were sissifying the League, and they liked to keep things simple. I mean come on, having to look at your original draft day pencil inscribed notebook roster once a week and pick out a QB, 2RBs, 2WRs, a TE, a kicker, and a team defense already involved a lot of research. Now, instead of showing up to work early on Tuesday morning and just tallying up the TDs your guys scored in the sun times box scores, now you would have to add up stats and add extra points for these stupid bonuses. They thought it would be such a pain. We voted. The I’s had it. I loved it!!!
I was always a proponent of making the leagues harder to win. I loved when bonuses came into play. It made fantasy football more fun. And then, out of nowhere. Like 4 years later. Someone suggested that we try this new Flex position. WHAT!?!?! A position that a RB, WR, or a TE could play? That was crazy talk. But we decided to bring it to a vote, and again, the I’s had it. F-bombs filled the air and someone quit the League, saying that this was not even football anymore. Another quarter of the league threatened to quit, guys were throwing their notebook an beer cans at the commissioner, it was mayhem. A few years went by, and after everyone finally warmed up to the Flex position…..wait for it….. Someone dared to bring up this ridiculous concept of something called P-P-R. POINTS PER RECEPTION. Man, we’re we in trouble now.
Then came the Internet. WOAH. You could put your guys in a lineup on the computer. This was deep. But the Internet had suggestions for more options to vote on, and not everyone had it at first. Many more changes could be added and some people had unfair advantages in free agent pick ups and injury reports. A whole new set of challenges were unfolding in front of our America on line accounts. We had no idea how far fantasy football would come, and how hard the job of being the Commissioner would really end up being.
I still think that the hardest task the Commissioner has is setting a day to conduct the drafts. Yes, drafts. Everyone is in at least 3 leagues now, and everyone is in each other’s leagues with different Scoring rules. It’s not uncommon to leave one draft, race across the city of Chicago and do a 2nd draft the same day. That’s like 10 hours of drafting. And it involves having different highlighted scoring sheets for each type of league. I started my own “Bavaro 2QB fantasy football league” a few years back because I wanted to tailor make my own, almost impossible to win rule system. I’m the Commissioner of a 12 team, 25 round redraft, 11 starter QB, QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, PK, and team defense league. All of the bonuses, and PPR, and long field goals and long passing and rushing and receiving TD’S. It’s beautiful. But it was not easy to sell. I had to wine and cry to get my way in my own league.
I’m now entering into the world of dynasty, with a Superflex, a salary cap, and contract years. Worst of all is trying to talk everyone into switching to the My fantasy league site. Everyone is so comfortable with the ease of ESPN. But the MFL sites has all of the horns, bells, and whistles, that we will ever need to play, and it has them pretty much year round. Thank goodness it has an app, or it would not even be a consideration. As Commissioner, I get the pleasure of trying to figure out the MFL settings. This has proven to be a very hard work in progress. This dynasty format brings its own set of problems with collusion, and possible defection because of the work that goes into these type of leagues. Trying to keep it as hard as possible but also as competitive as possible is a fine line to balance on.
No matter how many hours you spend combing through the rules and setting up the League as perfect as you possibly can. Something always goes wrong. A guy registered as a WR or RB ends up playing QB and the opposing team says that the stats should not count because of his RB designation, or someone on defense switches to WR and kick returner and that guy had him on his defense so he should get the points for him, or his Internet was down, so he could not call in his lineup, or he was at the Bears game and could not get a signal on his phone to change his lineup. These little problems are enough to make you want to pull your hair out. I could not imagine being in Roger Goodell’s shoes and having to constantly deal with drugs, rape, DUI and gun charges and the list goes on.
I do love the NFL draft. It’s like Christmas for anyone in fantasy football. Making up my own mock drafts and betting my friends on players landing spots or how far they will fall and rise. I know that Roger Goodell has a hard job. I know that I relate to his disappointment when things go wrong on a small scale in my own little fantasy football world. I know the players hate him and the fans hate him. But as a Commissioner, I respect the man. I understand that he has a job to do. I know he does his job to the best of his ability. I also know that he gets paid like 34 million to do that job and all I get is a big fat screaming phone call or group text from 11 owners lambasting me for running my league like a jerk. Everyone wants you out. The impeach the pig slogan (that’s their reference to me, no thanks to my brother Andy) grows in popularity every year when a rule situation arises, but no one wants the misery of being commissioner.
So as much as I respect Roger, there is nothing more exciting and entertaining than sitting at a bar, or in my garage with friends, or at my brother Peters house, drinking beers, and listening to the crowd jump out of their seats and erupt into the loudest boo in the history of sports, the boo heard around the world. The booing of the most powerful Commissioner in all of sports, has become so fun and such an adrenaline rush, that I have no choice but to laugh out loud and join in. I love football.