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:
I’m very sorry for the disappointment, but you know as well as I do that you can’t trust everything you read.
starting to question Julius Thomas’ commitment to my fantasy team.. — Joe (@BenghaziExpert) December 7, 2014
I am completely, 100% not dedicated to your fantasy football team. Glad I could clear that up for you.
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,
*Astericks courtesy of The Players’ Tribune
@Julius_Thomas has been about as useful as a white crayon the entire 2nd half….same goes for Phillip Rivers
— John Duckworth (@John_Duck3) December 15, 2014
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.
Oh Heather, I’m going to lose so much sleep over this… LAAAAAAATE!!
Please reconsider… NOT.
Julius Thomas needs to start playing like a third round fantasy draft pick.. If you have him on your team, you feel my pain. — Taylor Throne (@WatchTha_THRONE) December 7, 2014
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?
Didn’t cost me mine. Playoffs here I come!
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.