Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Get paid Vick, get PAID!

The summer going in to my senior season of high school, for a summer job I moved to Utah and worked for my brother, a general contractor in the Wasatch front and Park City area. The state was only a few months removed from the 2002 Winter Olympics, and in the words of my brother, Park City had now been, “discovered,” which, as the years grew later, turned in to him saying, “All of the billionaires are beginning to push out the millionaires.” I always liked that imagery. I thought it was clever. But for a contractor, that is a wonderful problem to have in your region of work.

Up until this point in my life, I had only ever had two jobs. The first was the family paper route, handed down kid to kid, from my oldest brothers to my sister just above me. It was a system and it was all done with the help, supervision, and guidance of our parents. Every morning we would wake up at the crack of dawn and head to distribution center to collect the content from the presses. I started delivering papers when I was eight years old, and continued to do so until I moved to the Beehive state at the age of seventeen. My second job, I worked for a company called Office Furniture Source in my home state of Washington. I assembled the various office chairs and entertainment centers, as well as making deliveries of said furniture. I had received the job to make extra money to buy clothes and have mad money. I was sixteen and got the job through a family friend of our church. It was an good job and I have a couple of funny stories to tell from it. One of my fondest memories ever, is a story from that furniture job:

It was my third week of working with the company. Richard (my Hispanic co-worker who had the thickest accent of all time) and I were driving out to the boondocks of all boondocks. I halfway fell asleep on the drive out, which kind of adds to the dream-like feeling of that day. We had a ton of furniture, some really expensive oaky pieces, loaded in the van, and invoiced for just one residence. The areas we were driving through did not necessarily scream, “We have extra money for office furniture”. I began to doubt the day as being a drag. Driving a bit further and coming up over a hill, some developer had decided to build these massive structures, disguised as homes people could buy and live in. Gigantic places.

Richard always started to untie everything and lower the lift gate when we arrived at our delivery destinations, and that always meant I had to be the one to make the first contact with our customers—something I hated doing as a somewhat bashful sixteen year old. This delivery was no exception. I dreaded making conversation with customers, and by the size of this house, I was extra intimidated. When I rang the doorbell, I half expected a butler to answer in full tuxedo or some old grumpy guy that had bought up all the land surrounding him just so he could be left alone.

Not remotely.

Chh.
Chh.
Chh.
Chh.
Chh.
Chh.
Chh.
Chh.

BAUM! Bu buu buam… bu buu buam………. lA nu na la bu baum!


Opening the palatial door was this… vixen. A certified eleven out of ten, eye candy, music video, super hot, probably-sent-a-few-men-to-prison-before-she-turned-of-age… bombshell. Blonde, 5’4-ish, amazingly tanned that when she wasn’t sparkling, she was glowing. We must have caught her getting ready after a shower. Her hair was still wet and kind of scrunchy, but she had already done her make up. Someone had airbrushed these white things call short-shorts on her and she sported an oversized sweatshirt that had been cut in all the right places. These two items were the only thing on her body. Nothing else. I could not move. I could not breathe. The only thing I could do was stare. If I had died right then, my tombstone would have read ‘Died in the Presence of Perfection’. She moved in slow motion, like stopping time was a parlor trick that her hotness granted her. Some movie lighting crew existed invisibly and followed her everywhere to accentuate her stunning everything.

I do not know how long I stood at the door under a spell, but she just smiled and gave me the friendliest, “Hi,” that ever existed, and it snapped me out of it.

“We furniture. I mean, we have your furniture.” I practically drooled it.

She gave a laugh and said to follow her and that she would show me where he husband wanted it. Anywhere and everywhere I thought.

I took a look at the space and the path she showed me to get to the room and worked up the courage to ask her if there was a different way to get to this furniture there, either through the back yard or garage. She had not thought of that and said that the garage would probably work better and to follow her once more. Truth be told, I would have followed her off of a bridge at that point.

Finally starting to recover from my shellshock, and trying to play every movement I made as nonchalant as possible, she opened the door leading in the garage.

Shellshock part two.

There sat the dopest Ferrari. A shinny, silver, 575M Maranello. I recognized it immediately; after all, it was the same exact car on the cover of my Motortrend sitting on the foot of my bed at home. As I stood helplessly staring for the second time that day, hottie hot hottie went back to the kitchen to get the keys.

She came back, hoped in, started the car—it literally purred—and put it in gear. Stalled it. Started it again. Stalled it a second time. After the third time she did this I was going to suggest we just put it in neutral and push it out in to the driveway, but then she opened the door and asked if I knew how to do it. The car was her husband’s and he was out of town. I gave her the quickest, shortest ‘yes’ in the history of the world. It was almost a whisper.

Backing out that Ferrari was one of the greatest feelings in my life. I think I topped it out at 4 MPH. I have done 4 MPH in a Ferrari 575M Maranello people. I now live on a higher echelon than most of society. Best day of work, hands down. Needless to say, Richard and I took our sweet time moving the furniture in and getting everything situated. To cap off the day, she tipped us each twenty bucks and gave me a personally signed Maxium-styled picture of her that she kissed with lipstick. Okay, so one of those two things did NOT happened… but still. It was the single greatest day of work I have ever worked.


Back to the real world and how things normally go. This new labor intensive job, working with big brother, did not yield any Ferrari driving or encounters with saucy minxes, but it produce some nice paychecks for a seventeen year old kid and remember taking that pay check to the newly built outlets in Park City where I made two key purchases for a seventeen year old male. Headphones and some Nike kicks.

The headphones were Bose’s noise cancelling ones. They were THEE best head set on the market and in my opinion—worth the $300 bucks I shelled out for them. Looking back at the purchase, I quickly slap my hand to my forehead, but then again, I was a kid, so big whoop. The kicks where a black with red trim, set of Michael Vick indoor turf shoes. I loved those shoes and rocked them everywhere I went. It was the precursor to my love of Michael Vick and the precursor to his 2002 Pro-Bowl season and the subsequent kick off of MV7 taking over the league, and eventually signing a 10-year $130 million dollar deal. We all know what happened to that contract two years later and the fallout that ensued.

Fast forward to yesterday. Michael Vick had for the second time in his career, has captured and taken over the National Football League and again, signed his second hundred million dollar deal—a 6-year $100 million dollar deal to be precise, with the Philadelphia Eagles.

You either love it or hate it. Most hate it. I love it. I love the whole entire Michael Vick story. I’ve talked about it. I’ve written about it. A small part of me hopes he wins a Super Bowl just to cap off the most inspiring story of redemption of all-time, and that is saying something because I am a through and through Dallas Cowboys fan. They play in the same dang division for crying out loud. Philly winning a Super Bowl means Dallas does not. So maybe let me clarify: if the Dallas Cowboys cannot win the Super Bowl, then my loyalties immediately fall to Michael Vick. I will probably get some wicked hate mail for saying that from Cowboys fans. Actually, on second thought, I won’t. Three people read these columns, and I do not think you are a ‘Boys fan… are you? Moving on.

I am not a father, but some day I will be, and I am going to ingrain the Michael Vick story in to my children’s brains, and that no matter the terrible things you may do in this life, you can always pay for what you did, right the wrong, and rise from the ashes of your trial to accomplish everything you once had… and even more. Regret can teach you, make you better. Stronger. I believe that whole-heartedly. Everything about this story can be a lesson. Learning that some people, can never get passed mistakes you may make, but their bitterness does not define you, and that the opinion you hold of yourself is greater than any other. Forgive those that do not forgive you. The best challenge in being humbled is how to stay humble. You can be anything you want to be and can always be a better person. These are the takeaways we need to be making.

I think Michael Vick has gotten everything he deserves, both good and bad, and I love his contract extension. Go out and silence the critics MV7, silence them like you always have.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fantasy Preview

No matter how you look at it or should I say listen to it, whether it be:

Like this.
Or this.
Even this.
Perhaps this.

The dawn of the NFL kick off is creeping upon us. We can all agree we are glad it is back in lives. Or can we? Hold that thought for a minute.

I have given this some long and ponder-some thought and have come to the conclusion, that NFL football means more to me this year than it ever has in the past. Initially, I would not give that longing sort of feeling credit to the lockout, but perhaps I ought to. In the minds of most of us… the lockout never happened because it did not really affect us at any great deal. I did not miss any games at all, and the games are the only thing that would given me a sense of “missing something” if they were not present. But they have been present. So why have I felt like I have longed for the NFL more this year, as compared to any other moment in my life?

Today it hit me—along with the sharp, poignant, and glaring fact that I have not written anything in over a month—that I have missed the NFL. During the lockout, I did not pay any attention to it, because frankly there was never a moment where I had a fear that I was going to miss out on my annual partaking of the NFL. It would, in my mind, be the same as it has been over the past 10 years of my life. I always knew it would be back and that a deal would be reached between owners and players. Not scoffing that sentiment, like a know-it-all sports writer, rather it was just my opinion on the whole ordeal. And I was right. (OK, that part was scoffed a ‘lil bit).

I did not follow the lockout, read up on it, refresh my Twitter every two seconds for the latest Adam Schefter update. Nothing. The exact opposite rather. I locked out the lockout. I simply put the lockout and all things associated to it, out of my mind. Today I realized, because I did this, the times when I would be reading about camps opening up, the occasional offseason trade, etc., the little NFL crumbs that kept my belly sustained, were cut off. I was going NFL hungry. It is so obvious now that I write it down. Why did I think that I could starve myself… and not feel starved?

Regardless, the NFL is indeed back and with that comes my nerdy, super geeky, pencil pushing, I-wear-black-rimmed-glasses-with-tape-around-the-middle Fantasy Football. It still amazes me when I mention Fantasy Football in casual conversation with strangers that I interact with, and they ask me, “What is Fantasy Football?” Fantasy Football is such a part of my life, it has become one of those things that you just naturally assume every person likes and does, same as you. I will acknowledge that Fantasy Football has grown and is pretty mainstream, and lot of that has to do with the advances in social media and technology, but Fantasy Football is not to the capacity that everyone does it and knows what it means. What is Fantasy Football at its basic core?

My take and the way I tell people about Fantasy Football:

"You and your buddies get together and take turns picking the rights to real life NFL players, with which you form a “fantasy team”. Each week your team plays another person’s “fantasy team” and you keep score with a point system correlating to said person’s actual, real life, NFL performance. If Drew Brees is the QB for my “fantasy team” and he throws a touchdown pass that week in his real life game, than I get X amount of points. Whosever team has the most points in that weeks matchup, wins."

This is the part where I finish and look at them, and they respond with a blank stare or say something like, “Ohhhh OK…” Which really—I mean, lets be honest—just translates to, “I get what you just said, but in no way does that sound fun.”

I like to break the awkward tension just by saying, “Yeah, its just a super nerdy thing I do with my friends” to which they let out a real, genuine, somewhat gasping, like they were holding it in, laugh. The laugh is the joyous, ha-ha, look at you, non-verbal form of saying, “Oh my gosh, that is exactly what I thought when you were talking, and the look on my face probably gave it away already, but because you just said what you said, I am going to take the opportunity to unconsciously laugh to your face.” It’s OK. When it happens I think I remain really funny, while still being geeky, and that people respect me. I think that way until I write about it in a column and realize people laugh at me…

Moving forward.

Fantasy is back in my life and this is the second year of an auction league I set up to serve an extra scoop of dorkiness. If you are reading this and are a League Commissioner in your first year: I feel for you friend. That is not a good time. Hang in there; it will get much better year two. At least it did for me. Last season—when I posed on everyone like the Heisman on the way to the locking up the League Championship (yeah, I said it)—we only had one person quit and one person who never checked their team. Luckily I was able to find someone mid-season who would take over for the quitter and would stick around for the foreseeable future. It was not too hard to adjust the roster for the non-checker, and I found a solid replacement to take over this year. Do not get discouraged by the slothfulness of people in your league.

The thing that separates our league, from most leagues out there, is that I set it up using the best formats of various Fantasy Football settings, all rolled in to one. On top of that, I added elements that have never existed in Fantasy Football, such as farm system draft of collegiate players and long-term contracts. What is a long-term contract in Fantasy Football you ask? Basically, it is light years ahead of your patty-cake patty-cake bakers pan lottery draft. I wrote about this last year. If you are still using a snake styled format to conduct your draft… you are living in the Stone Age. Time to elevate your thinking and switch to the auction draft. It is where the playas’ play. And we all wanna play where the playas' play.

Pretty much, a long-term contract is the equivalent—which mind you, does not exist anywhere else except in my fantasy league thanks to my time, hard work, and inspiration of Bill Simmons—to the hold over that exists in snake styled drafts.

In leagues that allow for holdovers (usually 2 or 3 players) you can keep that player for ever and ever and ever. Not competitive enough, and did not really reflect how things are done in the actually NFL. Obviously NFL teams can keep players… but they have to pay those players… so why not model my Fantasy Football league as much as I can to the NFL? That is why our league plays like this:

i. You can keep any player for a TOTAL of four years.

ii. Any player you drafted can be kept for an $10 the following season.

iii. After Year 2, you then have the option to sign that player for TWO extra years, for $15 more in Year 3, and another $5 in Year 4.

iv. Decisions to sign a kept player to a 2-year contract extension (years 3 and 4) must be made prior to the Year 3 draft.

THE 2-YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION LOCKS IN YOU IN FOR TWO YEARS FOR SAID PLAYER. Even if that player gets hurt and you drop them. That money is still coming out of your draft budget regardless.

Say what?! Any player that was on your team last year, can be re-signed for what they were paid the first year, but for an additional ten spot on top? You betchaya. With this format, I am not limited to 2 or 3 “holdovers” but instead I am only limited my team’s budget AKA a Salary Cap… just like the real NFL. It puts you in the owner mind set. Plus, the agony of whether or not to sign a play to a TWO YEAR deal is felt by the fantasy owner, the same as it is felt by the NFL owner. I really cannot wait to get to Year 3 to see if I have to face that kind of decision. Even more than that, I cannot wait for someone in my league to go through themselves, sign the player, and then have that player suck it up. It’s fantastic! Mental stress over a fake game that ultimately does not mean anything! Yaayyyy!

Well how much money do you have each year? In our league, every team is allotted $200 to spend on players for the draft. The funds for the guys you re-sign are taken out of that $200 dollar amount. For mid-season pick-ups, each team will have $150 dollars to spend for the entire regular and post season. To get a feel for it here is each teams break down for this year’s upcoming draft:

JEFF

RB Darren McFadden $11
RB LeGarrette Blount $13
TE Jermichael Finley $14

Remaining funds for draft night: $163

Last season was Jeff’s first time every doing Fantasy Sports. He did pretty well, but his team was plagued by injuries and semi-off years by guys who he paid top dollar for. He stuck in there and took his licks and landed two good re-signee’s in Run-DMC and LaGarrette Blount mid way through the season.

BRAD

QB Josh Freeman $22
WR Mike Wallace $11
RB LeSean McCoy $11

Remaining funds for draft night: $156

Brad is taking over the guy who never checked his team and really, we should not be surprised that he never checked his team because he was a no-show on draft night. Because he could not nominate players or bid on them, his team was given players at $1 dollar last season after the rest of us had finished the draft. Getting LeSean McCoy this year for $11 is a steal, when ESPN has him projected to go $48 on their big boards.

R-DAWG

RB Jamaal Charles $16
QB Aaron Rodgers $42
WR DeSean Jackson $27
TE Antonio Gates $25
RB Frank Gore $36
WR Miles Austin $28

Remaining funds for draft night: $26

The big spender our first year, and now the big spender again. At the start of last year’s draft, I nominated the first pick to be bid on—the New York Jets defense—and Ryan bought them for $6 dollars. His explanation has been, “I am not keeping any of this money in real life, so why save it?” To each their own, but $26 bucks left over on draft night, to fill 9 positions will be interesting. Granted you cannot completely knock him. He finished 2nd overall in the league last year.

E

QB Matt Ryan $14
QB Ben Roethlisberger $14
TE Todd Heap $11
WR Calvin Johnson $36

Remaining funds for draft night: $125

E was unreal last year. He finished the regular season at 10-3 after starting out 0-and-2. On top of that, the only reason he lost his first two games is because he never switched out the injured Beanie Wells in Weeks 1 or 2. Had he played ANY other running back on his bench, he would have won both games and finished the regular season 12-1. However, come the playoffs he was a no-show and was dismissed in the first round.

SNOOPY

RB Peyton Hillis $13
WR Hakeem Nicks $12
WR Vincent Jackson $15
WR Michael Crabtree $15
QB Tony Romo $14
QB Philip Rivers $27

Remaining funds for draft night: $104

The sneak. When everyone was battling it out in the playoffs, Joey saw that it was not going to happen for his team, and did the smart thing by picking up players that had been dropped due to injury to make a playoff run. He snagged Tony Romo for $4, Michael Crabtree and Vincent Jackson for $5 a piece. Like Ryan, Snoop re-signed six guys, but managed to do it for less than $100 bucks of his draft budget

ROB

QB Peyton Manning $50
RB Arian Foster $13
WR Andre Johnson $51

Remaining funds for draft night: $86

Rob finished last year’s draft by shoulder shrugging at the three $3 dollars he spent on Arian Foster, because he had forgotten to draft a back up running back. It was the last pick of the draft and nobody thought anything of it. After Week 1 we were all whistling a different tune as we watched Foster put up a gangster 46 points… for Rob’s bench. Same thing happened again in Week 2. Rob wised up and started Adrian for the rest of the season.

ME

QB Michael Vick $13
RB Michael Turner $28
WR Roddy White $26
WR Dez Bryant $17

Remaining funds for draft night: $116

I made moves and ended up League Champ. I intend to RE-peat with my RE-signs.

JASON

RB Chris Johnson $56

Remaining funds for draft night: $144

Jason took over for the quitter, and let us just say the team he took over did not have a bunch to work with, hence him only resigning one player. He has promised big things this year and is looking forward to playing a team that he drafted himself.

Last year was extremely fun and challenging but this year should be even better.