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Commentary From the Edge
By Kevin Ratterree
November 25, 2003
  This is the week of clarity for all of us fantasy freaks. The day of reckoning is upon us again. Most leagues end their regular season after next weekend's games, and we will all soon know our fantasy fates. Would we have better spent our study time trying to stave off tossing dinner while watching reality TV shows with the wife, or did our obsessive hours of toiling pay off. Soon we will know.

I have read the annual discussion on the Huddle message board concerning the question of having too many fantasy teams spoiling the fun. Well, you can look at that issue several different ways. If you have several teams, chances are that at least one or two will make the playoffs, and the chance of winning a Championship is much greater.

There is nothing worse than having only one team and having a star player go down along with your teams chances of success. Of course, I scarcely remember those days. I figured out early on that I could balance several teams. This year I have 5, which in reality is probably one or two more than a person should have. But I have an illness. I can't help myself. You know. I know you know.

I have 3 teams that are re-draft leagues, a 10 team and two 12 team. I also have 2 keeper 12 team league teams. Between the five teams, runs the whole gamut of emotions. One 4-8 team. One 10-2 team. Three are playoff bound for sure. One is hanging by a thread, the 4-8 team died weeks ago.

My keeper team that I have had for 4 seasons is the pitiful and embarrassing 4-8 team. This will be the first team I have had that did not make the playoffs in 10 years of fantasy football. My league mates read this column and will delight in my admission that I have a team that sucks. I can scarcely remember how confident I was after the draft. I had a starting line-up of Garcia, T. Henry, F. Taylor, Owens, Mason, D. Clark, Reed, and K.C. defense. How this team ended up 4-8 is a bigger mystery to me than the fact that parents continue to let their boys spend the night with Michael Jackson.

I boycotted the Fox pre-game show this week. I made that decision the second I heard Keyshawn Johnson would be there. Fox thought they were pulling a coup, bringing the hottest story in the league right in for a ratings boost. For me, it was just an excuse to skip the whole program. The Buccaneers sent Keyshawn to his room without supper, and Fox was the mother sneaking food to his room and giving him a hug. Isn't that nice. Yep, those Fox execs are a bunch of Mothers in my book.

Of course, since I did not watch Fox and I am on an ongoing boycott of CBS (Deion Sanders) I was forced to watch the entire two hours of ESPN Countdown. But I could not escape Keyshawn. There was Michael Irvin defending Keyshawn in his usual abrasive, overbearing, 80 IQ fashion. Irvin said, "Keyshawn told me Jon Gruden told him one lie after another....". Yeah? So what. When you have a jerkwad like Key' constantly whining and yelling at you, eventually you just tell him what he wants to hear just to shut him up. Kind of like the way you have to deal with your wife sometimes.

Irvin went on, "What you must have from your head coach is TROOF!!" Troof? What the hell is troof? Michael, I defy you to find that word in the dictionary.

Then when Steve Young tried to explain reality to Irvin, the former prostitute banging, coke honking beacon of morality just kept interrupting Young. Irvin in his usual understated style just kept talking over him so Young could not make his point. Let me tell you what, that is good television. Maybe in Iraq that would be good television. Here in America it is an embarrassment. ESPN just keeps getting better and better.

The whole issue with Keyshawn is about inappropriate behavior. Not about what Gruden told him. It is about disrespecting your coach, your team, your league, your fans. Key' is so disillusioned that he thinks he is such a talent that his coach has to take whatever he dishes out. No Key'. You are not Terrell Owens, You couldn't carry his jockstrap. And you cannot get away with what he gets away with. I'll never forget Keyshawn dissing Marvin Harrison on that Monday Night game. That was the defining moment of Key's career to me. There is nothing much worse than an egotistical idiot. Key' isn't fit to shine Marvin Harrison's shoes. Marvin Harrison represents what athletes should strive to be, while Key' represents everything wrong with pro sports today.

BIG KAHUNA PICK

Alright sports fans. I hit my pick last week. The Rams did indeed struggle to best the Cardinals, and damn near lost the game outright. An easy cover. Thank you very much. 3-2 overall - win loss win loss win. I would like to say that I will break the pattern, but to tell you the truth none of the early spreads are impressing me much. That's the hard part when you get to this time of the year. The sportsbooks have honed their numbers, and are tough to beat. Obvious opportunities are harder and harder to come by. This is especially true when you have a week like last where underdogs can rise up and rule the day. But, this is not about easy picks anyway. This is about going out on a limb and still beating the man. So here it goes.

The Thanksgiving games are usually dogs. The Lions are perpetually bad, and the Cowboys in the 90's usually mauled their opponents in a perfect turkey induced snorefest. Lately the Cowboys have been so bad that one could hardly ruin a great meal by having the misfortune to watch them. But this year there is at least a chance that the 'Boys game will be a good one. At the very least the game is meaningful, and for that I'm sure we are all thankful.

The Dolphins come to Dallas off a big come from behind home win against the Redskins. This one is easy folks. The Dolphins played a late Sunday game. Now they have to fly to Dallas for a Thursday road game. The 'Boys just beat a legitimate contender and feel good about themselves. The Dolphins almost lost a game they should have won easily. Guess where my money is going. Take DALLAS -3 and make some money while you lay on the couch like a beached whale with your belt undone. Only in America. DALLAS -3

MISERY INDEX

10) RAMS: Why is a team on top of the NFC in the misery index? They barely escaped Baltimore at home, and Chicago on the road. And then needed a last second FG to beat the Cardinals. This team is winning, and has an easy path to the playoffs. But you just get the feeling that they will be ill equipped to make a serious run at the Superbowl after barely beating a bunch of patsies along the way.

9) DOLPHINS: Barely beat the 'Skins, and that was only due to the fact that I think the 'Skins were scared and confused by the new Miami uniforms. All the people ready to christen Griese as the next..........Griese a few weeks ago have now surely decided Fiedler isn't so bad after all. Hopefully the Cowboys will force them to wear their white jerseys and spare us all from seeing those orange monstrosities again.

8) DEADSKINS: The only good thing about Sunday Nights official death knell was the fact that Bruce Smith finally managed to get his sack record. Great job Bruce. Now will you for God's sake please just shut up about it, and spend the next 5 years working on your induction speech. Be sure to include several lines like, "it's all about the team". By then we will have all forgotten that you stuck around just to get the record, not to win a ring.

7) VIKINGS: The team has frittered away a seemingly insurmountable lead, and Ahman Green is dragging the Packers behind him right on the Vikings tail. Culpepper is spending his Sundays doing his best impersonation of the Cardinals era Jake Plummer.

6) SEAHAWKS: When you score over 40 points on the road at Baltimore you win 99 times out of a100. Whoops.

5) FALCONS: Ran up a 21 point lead on the Titans in the first quarter, then remembered they were the Falcons. They let some QB nobody ever heard of clip them while Mike Vick stood on the sideline holding his arms out to make sure none of his teammates stepped on his bad leg again.

4) BILLS: If you had told me before the season that the Bills offense would be the worst in the league this season, I would have given you a verbal wedgie and considered giving you a real wedgie just for good measure. I'm not sure if the problem is the O-line, Drew's happy feet, Moulds injury, the coach, or all of the above. Probably that last one.

3) LIONS: Well, here they come again with the ever exciting early Thanksgiving game. I look to football for an excuse not to talk to my relatives on Thanksgiving, but the Lions games are so boring that I am usually forced into turning attention away from the TV. C'mon Lions, either get it together, or give up the Turkey day game to a team with a prayer.

2) GIANTS: The Monday Night loss to Tampa sealed their fate as an also ran. But I would like to personally wish Jim Fassel the best of luck with his next team. And I'd especially like to thank Fassel for taking that late safety to push the game over the 5 1/2 point spread. Now even the boys in Vegas hate Fassel.

1) RAIDERS: These are tough times for the Raider Nation. Mired in a horrible season. The team is actually playing competitive football now but still finding a way to lose every week. The really good part is that there is really no reason to think that next season will be any better, as half the team may be going up on steroid violations, and the other half would be happy to just be able to get it up.