Pictured on your left are a group of guys with whom I share a passion for fantasy football. This particular league - with the unassuming name of "Jim's Fantasy Football" - has been together 15 years as of the 2009 season, and there are six original owners in the 10-team league.
The league is largely composed of people who once worked together in a business I owned for most of the 1990s, though I have little to do with the cohesiveness of the group beyond my annual draft day grades, which feature gems like this year's dig at QB Matt Schaub: "A healthy Matt Schaub should guarantee that Scott makes the playoffs, but counting on Schaub to stay injury-free is like relying on Robert Downey Jr. to watch your coke stash for you."
No, the fact that the league has survived so long owes much to the nature of the game. Winning a fantasy Super Bowl gives an owner bragging rights (not to mention some significant winnings), and the week-to-week drama associated with a team that you personally assemble can be addictive.
I find draft day to be the highlight of the season, though, especially in catching up with guys I might not have spoken with since the end of the previous season. A number of the owners have kids, and it is amazing to me to see some of these kids enter their young adult years, kids who once accompanied their dads as mere babies years ago. Heck, draft days can serve as informal baby announcements, with participants catching up on the newest arrivals in between smack talking each other.
And me? I am oh-for-15 in winning the Super Bowl, though I have gone to the dance three times. Perhaps this is the year I win it all, particularly since I wound up with my first-ever #1 pick (I took Drew Brees in a QB-friendly format). Yet even if my team is a cellar-dweller, I am sure I will be back next year.
And the year after, and so on.