It’s late August and that means football fans across the country gather for their annual ritual: drafting their fantasy team (I got Brees this year! Yay!)
Fantasy football has grown from an obscure hobby to a nationally advertised phenomenon. Organized leagues can play for some serious money. And now Hollywood is getting in the act. No sooner did my league finish drafting than one of my fellow fantasy owners emailed me this:
Isn't this a good idea for a spec?
Representation: Chris Sablan (Original Artists) Written by: Jon Guerra and Eugene O'Neil
"Banned from fantasy football by their wives, a group of dads form an underground fantasy league around their sons' pee-wee football games. OLD SCHOOL meets BAD NEWS BEARS."
It was quickly followed up by an email from another owner with a link to the new Fox series "The League."
It certainly looks like the studios are trying to cash in on this new national craze and why not? But as a proud owner here’s a few things I hope they get right.
Use the Real NFL
There’s a huge difference between two guys arguing whether or not to draft Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys versus say Joe Kingman of the Boston Rebels. Would "There’s Something About Mary" be half as funny without Brett Favre? Would "Airplane!" be as hilarious without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Probably but we would have been deprived of classic moments like this (at the 1 minute 50 second mark):
Joey can speak for a lot of fantasy owners (Philip Rivers, you broke my heart last year). And the NFL would be all on board. They’ve done plenty to promote fantasy football around the country.
Don’t Forget the Ladies
The only problem I have with the pitch for "Fantasy Dads" is that all the wives and mothers are the kill joys. Today’s NFL fans have a healthy does of estrogen in the mix as detailed by my fellow owner Amy Sorlie’s article "Queens of Sunday." So how about a fantasy football rom com? Can a rabid fan deal with the fact that his girlfriend is kicking his butt at fantasy football? And of course the NFL isn’t shy about selling team jerseys to women either.
Make it Visually Exciting
While I personally get all kinds of excited just before Sunday, I freely admit it’s not the kind of thing that will translate cinematically. Mostly it involves me sneaking to the computer during commercial breaks to check on how the rest of my team is doing. And I’m not sure you can re-create the drama of last year when Ronnie Brown scored a last-second TD on the Monday night game to send my previously invincible squad down to defeat. I’m not sure how you would film that or even write it as a screenplay, and I lived it.
I have my concerns that fantasy football can be transformed into compelling entertainment, but if someone does pull it off I’ll be watching this year. Just not on Sundays. Or Mondays. Or certain Thursdays.