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Watching the 2021 NFL season without being part of a fantasy football league is liberating

No fantasy football for me in 2021. I have to tell you, it’s been so much fun to watch the NFL without worrying about what my guy is doing or what their guy is doing. I think I can get used to this.

NFL: OCT 03 Steelers at Packers Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I did no research before sitting down to write this article. Why? Because it’s about how I am not playing fantasy football in 2021.

In other words, no research was required.

I think I was in my 20s the last time I didn’t participate in a fantasy football league. I was quite green back when I first started playing fantasy football; oh, sure, I knew a lot about the NFL, but I didn’t know that, for example, you shouldn’t draft a kicker in the fourth round. What about quarterbacks? I always wound up with a lot of good names early in my fantasy football playing days. As for running backs? Not so much. I didn’t know how important those guys were at first.

There was the time I wound up with the second-overall pick in my 2004 fantasy football draft. I selected LaDainian Tomlinson, running back, San Diego Chargers. Not bad, right? You would think, but while Tomlinson did go on to have his usual Pro Bowl season in ‘04, he got off to a rather slow start, at least for him. Or, maybe it was just a slow start for my slow-starting team. Perhaps, that’s why my brother convinced me to trade him Tomlinson for a bunch of other players. Did it help? Nope. I think it helped him.

Nothing really helped me do anything even remotely approaching respectable in my early years of fantasy football. The one time I did make the postseason, I was able to knock my brother out of the wildcard round—yes, the same one who “stole” Tomlinson from me. Unfortunately, I was slaughtered in the next round.

My ineptitude continued for years after that one playoff appearance. That’s right, I would annually join a league, give someone my league fee, and then not recoup so much as a dime at the end of the year.

Actually, a dime would have been a welcomed sight after all of the nothings I got back each and every January.

Anyway, once I started writing about the Steelers on a regular basis, that kind of filled the void and satisfied that urge to be a part of something I wasn’t actually a part of. After that, I didn’t really care all that much about fantasy football. I still played, though. Every year, someone would ask me to join their league(s), and I would do it. I would go to Primanti Bros. for the live draft or log on to my laptop for the virtual one. However, my heart was never really in it anymore.

Sure, I did manage to win my league as co-owner of a team with my uncle in 2018, and that certainly was a great feeling. It was fun to actually win money for a change and not donate it. But I was only along for the ride—kind of like Daniel Sepulveda during those last two Steelers Super Bowl appearances (no offense to him). In fact, I think my biggest contribution came on draft night when I said to my uncle, “I heard a guy on the radio say that he thinks Patrick Mahomes is going to have a breakout year.”

Actually, that was pretty clutch in a Michael Scott from The Office sort of way, but I didn’t really mean to do it.

As usual, I was invited to join multiple leagues for the 2021 season. The old me would have accepted these requests in fear of disappointing someone. But this year, I mustered up the courage to say, “No, Biff, you get your damn hands off my grocery money.”

It’s been so glorious, so freeing, so liberating. I don’t have to worry about those lingering injuries that always lead to the game-time decisions that can really screw you if you don’t have a device handy. I don’t have to root against the Steelers, although, that never really bothered me all that much; after all, that opposing player is going to score points regardless, so I might as well benefit from it.

Best of luck with your fantasy football team this year, but don’t ask me to join your league. I gave at the office.