It's 12:59 on Sunday afternoon and Merry Men owner Steve Dugas throws on his signature youth large Calvin Johnson jersey. He assumes his Sunday afternoon routine of sitting in his Lay-Z-Boy chair, Maine Sunday Telegram at his side, and DirecTV remote control tuned to channel 700. He begins surfing through the channels...
Carolina (4-1) at Tampa Bay (3-2) "I'll skip that one."
Ravens at Colts "eh, I can't stand Marvin Harrison."
Chicago (3-2) at Atlanta (4-1) "Maybe to watch Robbie Gould field goals..."
Steve is exhausted from a full day of fantasy football...and it's only 8am
Detroit (0-5) at Minnesota (2-3) "Bingo." It's Dugas' wet dream. With Becky out of the house with the dogs, Dugas finally has some alone time with Calvin Johnson, Sidney Rice, Jon Kitna, Gus Frerotte, Tavaris Jackson, Brad Johnson, Mewelde Moore, Nate Burleson, Kelly Campbell, Daunte Culpepper and any other Viking or Lion that makes Steve reminisce of his fantasy golden years the first half of the decade.
At halftime, with the game hanging in the balance at 3-2, Steve walks out to the garage. He looks up and stares at the lone banner that hangs from the otherwise empty rafters (not counting an old Stackhouse box spring and mattress set) and he wonders what happened to the magic that once made him the league's most dominant owner. From 2000–2005 the Merry Men were an astonishing 48-29-1, with 4 playoff appearances, 2 Super Bowls and 1 YFFL Championship.
Steve has been agonizing over this long before the 1:00 games kicked-off. He was up and out of bed at 5:00am to check Rotowire and Yahoo Fantasy Sports for Early Doucet's active status. "Phew" he says, Early isn't a healthy scratch this week. Now he just has to hope the same for Pierre Thomas, Jordy Nelson and Jerry Porter in order to submit a complete lineup against his long time rival the Market Thugs.
Oh, how the mighty Merry Men have fallen. The '08 Merry Men are flirting with being crowned as the worst non-expansion team in YFFL history. With just 8 points from non-kickers over the last 3 games, and just 148 points (48 from Gould) on the season, Dugas is just above the pace of the 2001 Apple Eaters futility record of 276 total points.
With another 7 hours until kick-off, he can only click "refresh" so many times. To pass the time until Matthew Berry's "Start 'em Sit 'em" segment, he clicks his Firefox Bookmarks, and scrolls down the two dozen different YFFL.com web pages until he comes across it, "YFFL Player Awards - http://www.yffl.com/classic/playerAwards.php".
It's Steve's D-Day. The 2005 YFFL MVP results. Carson Palmer and Stephen Alexander tie! Unfortunately the enthusiasm isn't enjoyed by Steve. Call it the unofficial day the Merry Men empire fell, December 28, 2005. Since then the Merry Men have collapsed harder and faster than the Roman Empire under Romulus Augustulus.
Within two years, the Merry Men's entire starting lineup from their 10-3 AFC runner-up team would be completely transformed. Daunte Culpepper, Shawn Alexander and Mike Vanderjagt are completely out of football. Rudi Johnson was cut first by the Bengals and next by the Merry Men. T.J. Houshmanzadeh was traded for Anquan Boldin. Joey Galloway was also traded to the Thugs, this time for a late-round draft pick. Dallas Clark was cut and subsequently drafted by the Beans and went on to score 11 TDs in 2007. Only Willie Parker remains with the Merry Men today.
It's now 5:23am and Steve still has another 7 hours and 27 minutes until he squeezes into his Calvin Johnson jersey. He has time to review his last 3 drafts of which none have panned out. First round picks wasted on Vernon Davis and Brady Quinn. Second round catastrophes in the names of Tavaris Jackson, Tony Hunt and Earl Bennett. The draft blunders are too rampant to list. Steve looks at the three players taken after Ray Rice: Tim Hightower, Felix Jones and DeSean Jackon. He then looks at the three players taken after Pierre Thomas: Eddie Royal, Steve Slaton, Dustin Keller.
Creepy? Sure. But it gets Steve through the season.
Becky awakes and calls downstairs. "Steve, can I take off this Early Doucet jersey and mask now or do you want me to keep it on and save it for tonight too?"
"You know my feelings about two nights in a row, Becky."
"OK, I'll save it for next weekend."
"That's why I love you, honey."
Some say the rest of the league has caught up with Steve while others say Steve has just lost his killer instinct. This week he was completely baffled by a trade offer for an unnamed Mallards backup QB. The Steve of old would never have been perplexed by a simple trade offer. He would have played his magic harp into the tune of a first round draft pick and a Pro Bowl caliber player.
It's now 5:48am and Steve still has another six hours until fantasy football begins. If this is Steve's Sunday, you can only imagine how long his off-season is. This off-season could be especially long if the Merry Men continue their march to 1-12. His fiancee Becky has already said that she is unsure if she can go forward with the wedding if Steve continues to be an unsuccessful fantasy owner. She makes no secret in her unique attraction. Her Facebook "Interested In:" info says "Networking, Friendship, Successful Male Fantasy Football Owner". It gets worse for Steve. Her Relationship Status is listed as "Engaged to: No. 16 in the Power Rankings".
Steve remains optimistic. He adamantly denies he was at Goff's Hardware last week purchasing rope after arguably the worst team performance in YFFL history. Michael Hoffer of the Falmouth Forecaster was on PTI last week as a "5 Good Minutes" guest and talked to Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser about the Merry Men's demise. "This community is just disgusted. With [Bobby] Sansone in Texas and [Mike] Kinsman moving to Denver, there are only so many teams left in Cumberland County. A 1-12 team would be a real shame and wouldn't be received well." Hoffer then went on to say he needed a volunteer reporter to cover the Yarmouth – Sacopee Valley varsity football game.
For now Dugas will continue to press on. There will be no rope purchases at Goff's Hardware. The Early Doucet fantasy costume will remain bedside. December 28, 2005 will continue to mark the fall of the Dugas/Merry Men empire. The two dozen YFFL.com web pages will remain saved as Firefox bookmarks and the 2003 Championship banner will hang alone in the rafters of Dugas' garage. Gus Frerotte will be in the Merry Men's starting lineup again next week and The DirecTV channel will forever stay on the Vikings-Lions games.