9 lessons 'The League' taught us about life (and fantasy football)
The League was a weird, bumpy, often hilarious (and just as often tedious) rollercoaster into the chasm of the fantasy football psyche—a damp, dark place rife with insecurity, backstabbing, despair, and fleeting moments of completely superficial triumph. Lead actor, Steve Rannazzisi, built his career on a lie that he escaped the south tower on 9/11 and the show is nowhere to be found on the hundreds of digital streaming platforms currently lining the internet highway like roadkill. It’s an oxymoron and a paradox. Some of its jokes seem decades old two years after the show’s demise, while others still make you laugh so hard you puke. Perhaps the only consistent thing about The League over the course of its seven-season run and subsequent re-evaluation is this:
It absolutely nailed the absurdity of the fantasy football experience.
So with yet another season of snake drafts (and snake friends) upon us, we decided to take a look back at the most important lessons The League taught us, not only about make-believe football, but about our place in this great circle of life. Viewer discretion definitely advised.
When it comes to football (or anything else, really), your friends are not to be trusted
Your friends are assholes. Why do you think they hang out with you? They can't be trusted to make reasonable, respectful trade offers, so don't even think about letting them babysit. Let your guard down for a second, and suddenly they’ll be tampering with your lineup and filming porn in your kitchen. You’d be better off relying on a shady mechanic than your band of merry dickheads, and don’t forget it.
Thanksgiving is the best football day of the year
The most important ingredient of any proper Thanksgiving is not the turkey or the stuffing or the sweet potatoes—it’s watching the Matthew Stafford detonate your playoff chances for the six millionth Turkey Day in a row. Throw in a healthy dollop of Jeff Goldblum—as The League does for its season three classic, "Thanksgiving"—and you have yourself quite the debauched spread.
No matter how hard you study, there will always be some asshole who rolls out of bed and falls ass backward into an A
See: 2006 Shiva Bowl champion and double-kicker innovator, Taco MacArthur. So go ahead. Crunch the numbers, memorize the sleepers, run the mock drafts until your brain leaks out of your nose. No matter what you do, some jabroni who auto-drafted and forgot their flex was on bye will still smoke you like brisket at a Kansas City tailgate. Swallow that pill now and things will be a whole lot easier for you.
On a similar note, life ain’t fair, kid
Remember the season two finale, “Kegel the Elf,” when Kevin, who has organized, managed, and moderated his dysfunctional league for years on end is denied his presumed glory on the eve of the Shiva Bowl by the rights-free equivalent of Blair Walsh, sending him spiraling into a manger-mangling, nihilist rant that would make Clark Griswold blush? Well, as Frank Sinatra once said, that’s life. Maybe you should have just listened to your 7th-grade gym teacher after all.
Do not, under any circumstances, indulge the Rafi in your life
It’s gonna be tempting. The first time you meet your Rafi will probably somewhere crazy and you definitely won't be sober. The wild boar in their eyes might even seem fun at first. Give this person an inch, however, and before you know it they’re using your bath mat as toilet paper, having PTSD flare-ups during a friendly game of paintball, and putting seven dollars worth of Hoobastank on the jukebox. One the most important skills you can hone in adulthood is a good crazy radar, and Rafi is a perfect crash course.
Beware cheap meat
Yobogoya, the taste will destroy ya.
Your wife is smarter and more talented than you and the only reason she doesn’t participate in the things you like is because she would feel bad about beating you every damn weekend until inevitable divorce
Jenny, Shiva, Sofia. Perhaps the most important lesson The League taught us is that behind every grown-ass manchild, there’s a patient woman setting their lineups. It’s no coincidence that Kevin never won the Shiva Bowl until Jenny commandeered his team and it’s no surprise that the Shiva bowl is named after the only real doctor (sorry Andre) on the show. So next time your better half suggests grabbing Alvin Kamara off the waiver wire, open up your damn earholes and listen.
Jay Cutler was a star all along
Jay Cutler may be a certified reality star now, but it would have never happened without a little show called The League. In season five, Jay appeared alongside his wife, Kristin Cavalleri, playing fellow parents at the same Chicago pre-school as Kevin and Jenny. American show business would never be the same. In three years, when Jay is starring in Transformers movies, remember that it all began here, with the role he was born to play: Himself.
Fantasy Football is a destructive, all-consuming force that systematically ruins the lives of everyone around you
Delete your account. Change your name. Move to Montana. Live off the land. Start reading books. Do whatever you need to do, but never, ever play fantasy football again. Or just stay the course and end up a 45-year-old man in a fedora whose happiness and self-worth hinge entirely upon Phil f—king Dawson. The choice is yours. Don't be an idiot.