I did it.
I chose troubled Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott in my fantasy football draft. It’s not just any draft. It’s a league of four. That’s me and my daughters. The league winner gets a trip with me to an NFL game.
Madison said she didn’t want Elliott and she didn’t want Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
The reasons were different. Luck is hurt. Elliott is in a battle against a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. They say he abused a woman he says wasn’t dating (not that it matters) but that evidence says otherwise.
Speaking of evidence: The league says it’s sufficient enough to warrant a suspension; the players association says Elliott’s being dealt with unfairly.
I won’t go into more specifics, because from the floor of my home, when my daughters and I drafted our fantasy football teams, all that mattered was perception. These girls once loved Tiger Woods. They all three cast him away after his troubles.
So in a league and in a sport I’ve grown up loving and passed on that love to these girls, there exists an ugly side that doesn’t stay hidden, not even in fantasy drafts.
The Parcells approach
I’ve taken a decidedly Bill Parcells approach to fantasy team management. Parcells, former Cowboys, Jets, Patriots and Giants head coach, used a numbers-driven approach. Basically, it was “what have you done for me lately?” for anyone on the team.
The final 10% of the roster? Always subject to being dropped for an upgrade.
It sounds heartless. In real life it is. In fantasy football, it’s allowed me to win with players who play for dreadful teams such as the raiders and patriots because it’s all about the points we get from these players – any players – to win games in our league.
Fantasy football allows us to learn about players not on our favorite teams or from our favorite colleges, and gives us interest in almost any game on any given Sunday.
So I decided to draft Elliott. I didn’t know the full story (who does?) or even part of it. And when the pick appeared on the screen, I had the rapt attention of all three of my daughters as – try as I might – I rarely can muster with any other tactic known to me.
You drafted Elliott?? they chimed together, and I dismissed the dismay.
He’s just a player, girls. Nothing’s been proven. The ‘en’ hadn’t been out of my mouth a full second before I could feel the slime covering my soul. How’s a dad of girls give a knucklehead like Ezekiel Elliott a free pass?
The McDonald’s incident
It had been just weeks since the McDonald’s incident.
Camdyn and I stopped in for a parfait between soccer training sessions. A band of teens hanging out in McDonald’s made fast friends with her. Among them two boys, one shy, one a bit brazen. I’d find out how brazen soon enough.
Camdyn bent over to pick up her phone charger when the brazen kid ogled her and muttered something disgusting to his friend.
Dumb kid forgot the girl’s dad sat right behind her. I had full view of what she did, what he said, and what he did. I fought the fatherly urge to launch him like a hormone-laced javelin (because laws and Buddha) and we moved to another table.
The other kids asked if they’d offended us to make us leave.
I said they hadn’t. I said He knows why we left as I glared at this kid. And then to him You’ve got to have a lot more respect than that for a girl. I also fought back the urge to blame his upbringing or TV or Disney and instead just left it at that.
The kid was embarrassed and I hoped embarrassed enough to not act that way again.
When do we forgive and forget?
People we like and love do dumb things every day.
When do we forgive and forget? Am I reprehensible for having 3Oh!3 thumbs-upped on my Pandora, given certain lyrics about women? If I choose a quote to end a post with a quote from Bill Cosby? Am I wrong to feel empathy for someone like Michael Vick?
There are things we do that define who we are; there are things we do I pray to Jesus don’t define who we are.
Whose job is it to dictate good and bad, to vilify or saint a linebacker or line cook by what they’ve done? How long is long enough to forgive? How long should we hold someone accountable? Are there deeds that can’t be redeemed, ever?
The day after the draft I picked up Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford – which is notable, because he’s a fantastic player.
It’s also notable because to make room for him I dropped Ezekiel Elliott. I dumped this guy not just to make a point to my girls. I did tell them, though. None of them picked him up off the waiver wire. I’m not sure any of us ever will.
What I do know is that when you feel in your bones whether something is wrong or right or whether it’s been too long or not enough or there’s reason to doubt or not to doubt … well, that’s about the most honest barometer out there, don’t you think?