The Legend of Cecilio Guante
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Livin’ Fantasy Free

Just You and Me, Baby

It’s been more than a decade. Years upon years of convincing myself it was a harmless habit. Talking myself into believing that it was making my experience better…somehow elevating what already produced a natural high. But today was the first time in so long. Not once was I chasing dots and arrows on a screen. The bottom line was simply a background graphic that went relatively unnoticed. For the first time in oh so long, I was fantasy (and other recreational “betting”) free. And I have to be honest. It felt good. Damn good.

To be completely honest, I gave up “pure” fantasy years ago. It simply consumed too much of me. My natural inclinations towards teams and players were rendered completely inconsequential. Hate the Patriots with a fervor? But you’ve got Vinatieri! Disgusted by the Cowboys? Barber needs to get it on the goal line. Must. Have. Fantasy. Points.

Finally, I managed to say farewell…and things improved. Yet, I was still part of a pick ’em league in which there were multiple eliminator-style rounds and you chose every game of the week against the spread. The pool itself was/is genius. Multiple ways to win. Not too large a buy-in. It was about as harmless as it can get. Or so I thought.

For a decade, it continued to help control me — and my Sunday/Monday/Thursday NFL viewing. Again, my eyes couldn’t be torn away from the bottom line. I rooted for teams I should’ve been cheering against to rally…and cover. It got to the point where even the integrity of watching my own favorite team was sacrificed. I was embarrassed by my actions and thoughts on too many occasions to count. Still, I kept going back.

No more. Today, I experienced what it’s like to be fantasy (or anything related) free. This Sunday was fantasy liberation day. Sure, the Browns and Lions blew leads and Detroit got robbed by a horrendously bogus call. The point is, throughout the day, I rooted for them to win — because that’s what I wanted to happen. Crazy notion, huh? The spreads in the newspaper were of only passing interest. No longer did I stare at dots and arrows, tracking drives of teams like Jacksonville and Kansas City for whom I had no logical tie or interest. I read the day’s stat leaders and analyzed and interpreted them with the genuine interest of a fan — no ulterior motives or alternate alliances. Pure bliss.

At this writing, I am enjoying the Redskins and Cowboys on Sunday night. I’m pulling for McNabb and the ‘Skins. You know why? Because. I. Can. Because I want to. Fantasy freedom, baby. I can’t knock those who remain in its throes, and I’d be hypocritical if I claimed not to understand the high (hope your tight end had a fine day…and your placekicker, too). For me, I’ve just seen the light. At 33, my days of fantasy are gone forever. It feels good just to be a fan again.

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