My First Fantasy Championship Story – The Lighter Side of Monk

 

My Fantasy story deserves a background build up. As an NFL fan, I think you’ll like this one.

A small, unknown fact about ex-pro QB Vinnie Testaverde was that he went to Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia for 1 year prior to entering  Miami U. My dad was his QB coach that year and my dad’s #1 assignment was to help shed this New Yorker’s attitude, as this was the reason most of the potential college stars were sent to FUMA prep. My dad liked to use me as an ice-breaker to humble some of these hot shot QBs & WRs. At 8 years-old, I was considered a WR prodigy as I could catch balls better than most of our WRs and I was really, really fast for my age. I could hall in 60 yard punts from the air & was often used as an example of how to juke a player out of their socks. I remember Vinnie saying that he may be throwing to me in the “big leagues” some day. Vinnie was larger than life and made Tebow look like a wimp with his 400 lb bench pressing. That was the most weight anyone had ever heard of up to that point, let alone see a high school QB bench. I’ll never forget watching that bar bend & droop on each side. Never saw anything like it outside of an episode of the Hulk.

Anyway, I went on to have a hell of a high school career & set many receiving records as a DII college player. I got the invite in 1995 to tryout for the Baltimore Stallions in the CFL. I beat out a guy named Wayne Chrebet.

WRMonk

I was the tall, smooth route runner that the Stallions QB had been waiting for and Chrebet’s height alone put him behind the curve on day one. In fact, I’m not even sure if he lasted a full day now that I think about it. We went on to win the Grey Cup for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, the Cleveland Browns “snuck” back into town and we were told to relocate back up to Montreal. I wanted nothing to do with living there as I’d been in the Maryland/DC/VA area my whole life and staying close to my family means more to me than a game.

Ironically, the guy I beat out caught the attention of Testeverde while running on the street of all things. He pulled a few strings and Chrebet was made the 11th WR on the depth chart, placing him on the practice squad. A few freak injuries ahead of him, some hard work and a little more luck and Chrebet found himself in a game vs. the Rams. He broke off all the routes he was supposed to be running in that game and turned it into a game of “street ball” with Testeverde. He had 8 receptions and made the most out of his old “running back” skills breaking multiple tackles in that game. The rest is history as they say.

So how does this whole story tie back into my famous fantasy story. It all has to do with records and first times, but wait there’s more. A young man named Laveranues Coles joined the Jets soon after. A guy I became friends with years later when he moved to DC and played with the Redskins.

So Laveranues Coles first career touchdown was titled the “Monday Night Miracle”, selected by fans as the greatest game in Monday Night Football history. In that game, the Jets fell behind 30-7 going into the fourth quarter, but came back to win the game, 40-37 behind 5 touchdown passes from Testaverde to Jermaine Wiggins, Jumbo Elliott, two to Wayne Chrebet and his final pass to Laveranues Coles to win the game.

Fast forward to my first ever fantasy football championship. It’s December 26, 2005 and I’m down by 22 points with 1 player left on my roster. That player is my #3 WR, Laveranues Coles, who I just claimed off of waivers earlier that week because my starter, Plaxico Burress, got injured. The MNF game is against the New England Patriots on the final ABC telecast of Monday Night Football and the Jets starting QB is Brooks Bollinger. Brooks Bollinger?? Yes, this is the year they lost Chad Pennington and their second string QB Jay Fiedler for the season. Bollinger was the only QB on the roster for half a week until they called up Vinnie Testeverde. Teseverde was literally called off the couch that season. He was at home, eating chips and watching the games just like you and me.

My opponent, who I work with, tells me he already put a down payment on a flat screen that Monday morning since he saw the score and who I had left to play on my roster. It’s even more notable to mention that this guy is the most smug, biggest fantasy prick you’ll ever meet. Literally dances in front of you waiving the money he wins and will never, ever let you forget he’s the champ ALL YEAR LONG. Not even in a playful way, but in a way that leads to a lawsuit punch that you begin to think might be worth the investment so long as you don’t break your hand in the process.

So the MNF game begins and Bollinger sucks. Interceptions, fumbles and balls no where near his wide receivers. Coles has 1 catch for 6 yards at half-time and Tom Brady has put up 21 unanswered points. Third quarter begins and Brady scores again. Then Bollinger sucks, sucks, and sucks some more (it’s like watching porn without the happy ending). Luckily, he gets a drive extended by an Unnecessary Roughness call on the Pats Richard Seymour. HEY, Coles gets a catch for 10 yards. It’s a ppr so I have exactly 4 points now. I recall seeing 5 minutes left in the third quarter at that moment. Then, on a 3rd and 14, Coles catches a pass for 11 yards (brilliant). But they go for it and fool the defense with a hitch & go… Coles catches a touchdown pass. I quickly do the math and get depressed again. It’s more than I ever expected (especially at half-time), but it’s too little too late. I have 13 points and need 9 more just to tie. With 7 minutes left in the game, Coles catches another one for 12 yards so that’s 15 points, but Bollinger gets sacked and fumbles. Oh look, Doug Flutie has come in the game for the Patriots. He has a disastrous series ending in a fumble that the Jets recover with 3:20 left in the game.

Hey, my boy Testeverde comes in. So here’s a guy my dad coached, who threw many, many touchdowns to a guy that I beat out years ago and I need him to throw to my friend Laveranues, who I worked many fundraisers with in D.C.

It’s a very rough start for Vinnie, but the announcers start talking about a record that Testiverde can set if he can only manage one more touchdown pass. I can barely watch, it’s just incompletion after incompletion with a lucky penalty to keep it alive in between. It’s 3rd & 15 with 2:17 left in the game and, “OH MY, COLES CATCHES A DEEP TOUCHDOWN PASS!” I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!, but 6 points isn’t enough to get me there, how many yards is it. Suddenly I hear the announcer say, “Testaverde has set a new NFL record for most consecutive seasons with at least one touchdown pass, 19, by throwing a 27-yard pass to Laveranues Coles to secure the record!! This record on the last Monday Night Football game to be broadcasted on ABC!”

I never knew I cared so much until I noticed my eyes were getting blurry. Maybe it’s because my Dad is no longer on this Earth and I wish he could have seen Testiverde do that, some of it was for Coles, much of it was because of the roller-coaster ride of a season & game, but mostly because I get to tell that ass wipe to shove it in his smug pie hole the next day! And isn’t that what it’s really all about in the end!!! haha Not to worry, I stayed classy. It turned out that was the better route anyway. It drove him nuts that I didn’t rub it in. Every time he’d see me, he’d ask why I wasn’t rubbing it in and I stayed quiet and acted like it was no big deal. I acted that way the next 5 season’s when I continued to beat him in his own league that he started. That 6th year, he ended that league and all his college friends were pissed and wanted an explanation. I’m not sure what excuse he gave them, but I know the reason and he knows the reason. I recall stepping outside that day at work and doing a quiet little dance & song that you may have heard before, “I’m simply the best, better than all the rest.. simply the best..” I got a job elsewhere the following year.

I saw this guy for the first time in 5 years yesterday afternoon in a Sam’s Club parking lot. He saw me and tried to glance away, but I walked up honorably and shook his hand asking how his family was. He immediately began with a list of championships he’s won since and how he’s been cleaning up left and right. Then he asked what I’ve been up to and I casually mentioned that John Hansen from Fantasy Guru hired me a few years back to write for him and that I run my own subscription site (no need to mention this is the first year it’s been a subscription site). He literally shook his head and walked away from me on the spot. As I walked toward Sam’s Club doors, I grabbed an abandoned grocery cart and did the slightest, most subtle “twerking” dance to the tune of “simply the best… better than all the rest.” haha Here’s to dreams of fantasy championship trophies dancing in our heads tonight and enjoy the start of another GREAT fantasy season!

Filed Under: IDP Fantasy Football News

About the Author: Seems weird to think I started this wacky game in 2004. I love it, as I know all of you do too. My experience as an IDP guy starts as a waiver wire specialist. Anyone can tell you to start a Top 5 stud, but it's finding 1 or two "gems" off the waiver wire each year that makes the difference between winning your league and being in the middle of the pack. For instance, a long time ago before anyone new an SLB named James Anderson, I saw a perfect storm coming when they were about to play the Saints. I looked closely at the strategy and just knew the Saints were going to run at the strong side linebacker all day. I went all in on this unknown IDP Anderson and he rewarded us with a 13 solo tackle game from a relatively UNKNOWN waiver wire guy. He went on to be the top LB in every game from that day on throughout the season. I've managed to find that gem at one of the IDP positions every year before any other forecaster. I'm not sure how I have this knack. Maybe it's because I've played football since I was six and played both QB (reading defenses) and LB, reading offenses. It helps that my dad was a great coach for 36 years too. Most importantly, I love it and it's fun!

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