Doc, I have this, this dream.
Mmm, go on.
Well, it's like this: I'm sitting in a smoke-filled bar, a real dive of a joint, surrounded by a crowd of people - some I know, some I don't. In fact, you're there. People are calling out names, familiar names, and I can sense that my turn is coming to call one out.
Interesting. And you have a name in mind?
You bet. I'm feeling good about it, even.
About your chance in the spotlight?
Well, no, not exactly, but see, I have a name in mind that's going to have a big impact.
On the crowd around you?
Yeah, every one of them.
Hmm. Then what happens?
It's almost my turn. In fact, I'm next, but then ...
I ... I ... It's too horrible.
Please, take your time. But it's very important you be able to continue. I think we're close to discovering something here.
Okay. Just before my turn comes, I hear a voice behind me. It says ... It says ...
What? What does it say?
It says, "I'll take Curtis Martin."
Ahhh, and what does that mean to you?
Are you shitting me? It means my whole backfield's in ruins. My best guy now is freaking Garrison Hearst. I'm doomed.
And this means a great deal to you, this backfield?
Of course. Everyone knows you gotta have a stud in your backfield if you want to get anywhere. Losing Martin would be killer. In my dream. Or should I say, nightmare.
But, not in real life, eh?
Well, in REAL LIFE, I got Ahman Green and Rudi Johnson, so I don't really need Curtis, though I'd loved to have gotten him as my third back.
Your third back?
Yeah, but instead I opted to get a primo quarterback instead. Might have been a mistake, in retrospect. Really, I'm sucking wind at receiver and worse, I got Terrell Owens, but I flipped him over for Marvin Harrison, who can't BUY a throw from Manning this year. Can you believe that? The best receiver in the game and they won't even throw to him? It gives me headaches.
Ah, yes, the headaches. Tell me more about them. Are they also related to this Manning?
Well, not directly. I mean, I wanted Manning, but he was long gone before my spot. The real headache is, every week, I go into Monday night needing help from someone. It's taking an awful toll because I have to be at work Tuesday mornings at five.
And you need help getting to sleep? Can the Manning help you?
What? No, no, it's not like that. Although, if I had Manning, I might not need so much help every Monday night.
Getting to sleep?
No, getting some points on the board. If I could get more points on Sunday, I could go to bed earlier on Monday, knowing I had the week well in hand, you know?
Perhaps. We all have times in our lives when we find it hard to sleep, hard to come to terms with the things in our lives that are maybe not going so well, eh?
Yeah, if you say so. In my case, it's just, I can't NOT watch my guys, you know? I gotta KNOW or I can't sleep. Is it a sickness, Doc?
Well, I'm not sure I'd use that term. What I'm hearing is that you feel a need to be in control, but yet you cannot fully control this Manning, so you are losing sleep.
No, no, no. Forget Manning. This week, I'm more worried about Daunte Culpepper. He's been a monster all year. I think he's gonna kill me on Sunday.
A monster? Do you really think that?
Oh, yeah, he's lethal, especially with his feet.
Then I can see where you'd be worried, IF this man really had an interest in you. But you know, we often attribute motives or desires to people that are far removed from reality. Have you done anything to upset Daunte Culpepper, anything he would want to take out on YOU personally?
No, of course not. I mean, I know it's not all about me, but I can't help wanting to be the best, take all the marbles. It's not just the money, but even more, the accolades. I want everyone to know I beat them with my brain, I outsmarted them.
And you think you can do this, outsmart everyone?
I do. I know things haven't worked out that way so far, but I'm working on it. Working hard. Who trolled the wire and picked up Brandon Lloyd right before he came back big? I did. Who weaseled Trent Green for Kerry Collins? Me. I just need one more big score, one more move to solidify my starters ...
So. This is very important to you, being smarter, being better. I see this all the time. Everyone wants to be accepted, praised, acknowledged. But many people find they get enough acknowledgment in their daily lives.
I know, Doc. That's my problem. I don't. I'm living for this. I think about fantasy football day and night. Just during this conversation, I've switched my defense four times in my head, based on Sunday's matchups.
And? And it's Denver, of course! The Redskins can't stop Donovan McNabb.
Right. ... So, let's go back to the headaches. You get them from lack of sleep?
Well, that sure doesn't help, but really, I think it's from eyestrain. You ever scroll through 10,547 Web pages, trying to find someone who has the inside scoop on whether Ricky Williams will be back this year?
No, I don't think so.
Of course not. That's what I'm saying. I. Have. See, that's the difference between us, Doc. I take this very seriously, maybe too seriously for my own good. But I can't stop. I .... I ...
I ... I called the Atlanta Falcons trainer last week to check on how Michael Vick's shoulder was.
And you're ashamed?
Well, no, not really. But it was a wasted call. They wouldn't tell me anything, the bastards. And I was on a cell! I was roaming, for crying out loud!
Okay, settle down. I see you take this very seriously. I, also, think perhaps a bit too seriously. You are married, yes?
Yes, but just barely at this point. Every day I come home from work and go straight to the computer to check my e-mail in case anyone's responded to my trade offers. I go to the league Web site to see what transactions have happened, who's available. I check my weekly opponent's lineup to see if anyone's hurt; my own, too.
This is not good. You see-
THEN I hit the major fantasy sites, looking for player info: who's hot, who's ready to come back, who's banged up. My wife, she hardly even tries anymore. On Sunday I watch games all day and into the night. On Monday, I'm wound so tight no one will even approach me until Al Michaels signs off, and then only if I won.
Again, not good. I think--
I haven't seen my kids in two months! One of them, I think his name is Delaney -- or maybe Roosevelt, I'm not sure anymore - he asked me to throw him a football in the yard sometime in September. I told him, as soon as Daddy's in first place, sweetheart. I think he's still out there. Doc, you're the only one who can help me. Please! Help me!
I don't know if I can. It's asking a lot.
No, not so much, really. I can help you, too. I know your weakness.
Tight end! I'll throw in Jeremy Shockey.
Hmmm. Okay, it's a deal. Shockey, Green and Marvin Harrison for Tom Brady and Tiki Barber.
Done. See, I feel better already.
Glad I could help. And, you might want to talk to someone about that sleep thing.