Fantasy football gets real

Fantasy Football

Cassidy Johnson

Fantasy Football

By Assistant Sports/Health Editor



For some, football is just a game. To others, football is a lifestyle— one that allows them the chance to manage a team of players they have never met. 

Just days away from the start of the 2014–2015 NFL season, fantasy football fans are scrambling to put together their teams. 

Scott and Steve Miller are two of those fans. Brothers and die-hard football followers, the two have run the Mill House North Side Hustlers fantasy football league in Chicago for the better part of 15 years. With 12 teams, the league is home to veteran and new fantasy football fans alike that own teams with names such as the Spitting Llamas and the Bar Fly’s. The league begins its 16th draft Sept. 3. 

Steve Miller, owner of the T-Wink-Ies, has participated since the birth of the MNHS league. Scott Miller, owner of Peeps, is entering his 14th season with the league. 

Steve Miller said he fell in love with the camaraderie that exists between himself, his high school friends and co-workers. MNHS has been a staple in their friendships.

“We don’t do an online draft,” Steve Miller said. “We all get together. In the 15 years that I have done it, only two teams have had to do it on the phone because they were at a wedding.”

Scott Miller on the other hand, loves the control that fantasy football puts in the hands of the fans. If Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is not delivering the goods on Sunday, he can cut him. If Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson fumbles too much for his liking, he can bench or trade him. 

“You can voice your opinions [about the NFL] but you really have no control,” Scott Miller said. “Unless you own that team, you have no say in who they get.”

In addition to the friendships and the control the league grants its owners, there is competitiveness between the brothers and their friends. There is also the large trophy, which is what keeps Steve Miller striving to pick the best team.

“It’s about a 2 1/2 – 3 foot trophy with a big gold football on the top,” Steve Miller said. “It has everybody’s plaque from all the years that they’ve won it, kind of like the Stanley Cup.”

Fantasy football is not just bringing excitement to the lives of the guys in MNHS, though. With the advent of things like the Red Zone, a cable network created with the sole purpose of showing scoring highlights and keeping fantasy players updated on their players progress, fantasy football is affecting the game itself, and over the years the NFL has taken notice.

Ladd Biro, the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s “Football Writer of the Year” in 2010 and 2011, said that fantasy football is changing the way millions of people watch the game. 

“People now are watching not just for their favorite teams but also for the players on their fantasy teams,” Biro said. “It gets them involved in virtually every game, every weekend.”

In addition to the impact that fantasy football has had on the way the game is presented to and watched by NFL fans, the fantasy fever is infecting  the actual players too, according to Biro. He said he knows several real players that play fantasy football, and he hears the players talk about it with one another often.

“[Oakland Raiders Running Back] Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the guys who talks about it most, I believe he even has a radio show talking about it ” Biro said. “They  definitely get into it and they certainly hear it from their fans quite a bit. Fans will come up and say [I’ve got you on my team] and that kind of thing.”