As proud West Virginians in the eastern portion of the state, my family was afforded the chance to (reasonably) pick between three NFL teams — Pittsburgh, Washington, and (later) Baltimore.
As fate would have it, we largely split ourselves up into perfect thirds.
My dad and his side of the family are huge Steelers fans. When I played PeeWee football, I had the number 75. They called me Mean Joe Greene. My dad himself owns more Steelers gear than one might call sane. Hats. Motorcycle bags. Golf club heads. Decals. I think he even has Steelers cologne.
It smells like soot, and mediocre defense.
My mom's side of the family were all Hogettes. Before the Daniel Snyder era, Washington used to pre-season in Frostburg, Maryland — about 45 minutes from my house. So, we'd make the trek up there and try our best to get signatures of the players. (Fun fact: Gus Frerotte once refused to sign a ball for me because I was wearing a Curtis Martin jersey.)
As for the Ravens, two of my aunts married guys from Baltimore and had a bunch of kids. They slowly turned into B'more fans as their families grew.
As a Drew Bledsoe — and by extension New England — fan, I was/still am a little bit of a contrarian. I ended up marrying a woman from Boston and we still root for the Pats even though we're thousands of miles away.
I think my family is largely like the stories of most American families. Separate teams. Separate personalities. We've since moved far apart but year after year, football brings us together. The competitiveness. The fanfare. The jawing. There's just nothing like it.
From our politics to our religions to the way we eat ice cream (my sister will only have ice cream if she can use a plastic fork, like a psychopath), there isn't much we agree on: but we do all love our football teams. (Yes, we play a family pick'em pool) (No, I will not tell you how poorly I'm doing in it).
So on Sunday, as the NFL regular season concluded, it was a veritable War of the Roses as a third of the fam donned black and gold and another third purple and white and they all shipped off to watch the game together in-person, as they do every few years, all with the scant chance that one of their teams would join mine (heh) in the Playoffs.
You probably saw how it ended. Ugly. In OT. The Steelers finding a way to eke into the post-season once more.
I watched the game unfurl from the comfort of my home, texted my folks and my aunts, always remembering that ultimately — even with our numerous and sometimes intense differences — football is an amazingly powerful force that holds us together.
Playing a game — like NFL Fantasy, or Squares or Credits or whatever — while we watch has always made it that much better. I think maybe because it highlights the best parts of football, gives us just one more thing to talk about.
So I hope you guys and gals had as good a time playing games with us as I did commenting this year.
Now, I hopefully just have to hear about the Steelers for one more week until they're eliminated. That fanbase is just too much sometimes. ;)
Alright, let's do this one last time.
Survivor: A perfect rounding out (of sorts)
I had no idea when I started this metric this season that we would end out so beautifully perfect, but here it is: We're finally down to 1 out of every 1,000 NFL Survivor entrants!
My apologies to those who lost. But it did end up really well for me so...
Anyway, we lost 45% of pools this week. These were mainly by these three loses — one of which (the Colts game, which would've yielded them a playoff berth) was totally shocking. (The Pack losing to the Lions was sort of surprising, but in the end it didn't really matter as Green Bay had already earned a first-round bye).
Still, it's a little heart-breaking to know that more than a few folks saved the best team in the NFC until their final week only to be eliminated. Luck is a cruel mistress! You'll get 'em next season, I just know it.
Straight Up Pick'em: Ending on a Little Draw (8-8)
Out of all 272 games this year, the public went a respectable 154-118 (.566 win percentage). The biggest whiffs this week were the aforementioned Green Bay Packers losing to the Detroit Lions (95% of picks) and the Indianapolis Colts losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars (93% of picks).
Against the Spread Pick'em: Ending on a Big Draw (6-10)
After a fantastic 11-5 showing last week, we were up as a collective force by four. It seemed like enough for the RYP community to finish the season above those perilous coin flip odds. But I've got bad news this week: We were down 4, going 6-10 overall and bringing the community's regular season record to a "perfect" 136-136.
Makes us feel like Vegas really does have a good idea of how to get the public to split that baby.
Still, it could've been worse!
We could've gone 135-137 or worse... 134-138.
Or even worse than that...
Alright, you get the joke.
That's it. Thanks for a great season, everybody!
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