From That Guy On Your Fantasy Football Team, With Love

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Julius Thomas, Tight End / Jacksonville Jaguars - The Players' Tribune

I was fortunate enough to visit Rome last year and at some point during the trip, I was standing at the top of an ancient building, swiveling around while peering through binoculars and taking in the sights. And then without warning, I was approached.

“Julius! Julius Thomas, you’re on my fantasy team!”

To some people I am “Julius Thomas, tight end for the Denver Broncos.” But to many others I am just the tool to help them reach fantasy rewards.

I first started getting approached in public by fantasy football owners around October of last year. People would come up to me and say, “Hey man, I had you on my fantasy team since day one. I always believed in you.” All my day-one fantasy owners take pride in identifying me as their fantasy football weapon. Almost like a GM who drafts a steal in the fourth round that turns into a Pro Bowler. I’m always polite, but it can get a little exhausting when it happens everywhere you go. And I mean everywhere: Grocery stores, the mall, public restrooms, Italy, etc.

So I have fun with it. Sometimes when someone comes up to me and tells me that I’m the reason they won their fantasy football league, I respond, “Oh, that’s great! That’ll be 10 bucks.” The surprised look on their face is always priceless — some people even start to reach for their wallet before I tell them that I’m just playing.

Don’t take this personally but your fantasy football team doesn’t mean much to me and it shouldn’t. I’m sorry, but when I get in the end zone, it doesn’t cross my mind that I just helped your fantasy team. The excitement my teammates and I share are over the six points we just added to the scoreboard. I’m only happy for what I was able to do for my team not yours. Let’s just make this clear: My team wins are more important to me than your fantasy teams wins.

My fantasy football experience dates back to before it was a national phenomena. My dad played in the 90s, and I always tried to keep an eye on how his players were doing. When I was looking up Randy Moss and Peyton Manning’s stats, I never imagined what it would be like to be in those guys shoes. I understand how the game works and certainly felt the competitive aspect involved, but now fantasy football is a billion dollar industry.

There’s no denying that fantasy football is critical to the success of the NFL. There are probably plenty of people who would never see me play a single snap if it didn’t exist. The fantasy game drives fan engagement in the sport, and also increases the profile of the league — and by proxy — myself.

And of course there are other perks: I never have to buy a drink in Colorado pretty much ever because most everyone has drafted me as their tight end.

But it should be known that the attention I get from it goes both ways.

If I don’t have a huge fantasy production day, I’m not trying to personally sabotage your team. We are just spreading the love — if Emmanuel or Demaryius race into the end zone before I finish my route, I’ll take the six points and celebrate my teammate’s success.

There is a small minority who always take it one step further if you let their fantasy team down, and they all seem to congregate in my Twitter mentions. Like a lot of the guys I play with, I always want to respond — it’s against my nature to just let people slide. Yes, I understand that part of the job is taking the criticism along with the praise. And the majority of the time, I ignore them… but sometimes you just gotta have a little fun and throw some shit back:

Dear Adam,

I’m very sorry for the disappointment, but you know as well as I do that you can’t trust everything you read.

Take care,

Julius

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Joe,

I am completely, 100% not dedicated to your fantasy football team. Glad I could clear that up for you.

Good Tidings,

Julius

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tweet

Dear @Bweezy262,

Ah man, you really got me with that one. Those three games I missed are more than you ever played. What a ________.

From the bottom of my heart,

Julius

*Astericks courtesy of The Players’ Tribune

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@John_Duck3,

Bro, can’t lie that had me rollin, but that still makes us twice as useful as you. Thank you for all that you do for me.

Warmly,

Julius

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Dear Heather,

Oh Heather, I’m going to lose so much sleep over this… LAAAAAAATE!!

Please reconsider… NOT.

Julius

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Dear @WatchTha_THRONE,

I feel your pain, man. I have to hang out with the guy all day. By the way, where’s that signing bonus you owe me?

Yours,

Julius

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Dear @yithons12,

Didn’t cost me mine. Playoffs here I come!

Regards,

Julius

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While my real-life team gears up for the playoffs, I want to tell all the fantasy football players who drafted me to hang in there. We’ll get’em next year.

But that’ll be 15 bucks.

JT_Black_Athlete_Signature

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